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Michigan judge David McKeague is taking “senior status” on the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, a form of semi-retirement that will create a vacancy for President Donald Trump to fill.

The East Lansing resident has served on the Cincinnati-based appeals court since 2005 and was appointed by former President George W. Bush.

Bush’s father, former President George H.W. Bush, first appointed him to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan in 1992.

“I have had a wonderful career serving on the federal bench for the last 25 years,” McKeague, 70, said in a statement released by the court.

“I am proud of the work we have done at the Court, and it has been a true honor to serve. I look forward to continuing to make a substantial contribution to the work of the court as a Senior Judge.”

McKeague’s senior status won’t change the political balance of the 16-judge court — which features nine Republican appointees, five Democratic appointees and two vacancies — but it will leave another open position for Trump, a Republican, to fill on the court.

McKeague is an adjunct professor at the Michigan State University College of Law and was in private practice at the Michigan-based Foster, Swift, Collins, and Smith firm from 1971 to 1992. He serves on the Judicial Security Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States.

His appointment to the appeals court was initially delayed during a bitter congressional fight over various judicial picks by Bush. But the U.S. Senate – including Democratic Sens. Debbie Stabenow and now-retired Carl Levin – ultimately approved his nomination in a unanimous floor vote.

In the mid-1990s, McKeague presided over a federal corruption case in Lansing that resulted in multiple convictions after The Detroit News exposed widespread financial abuses at the state House Fiscal Agency.

He was lead author on a three-judge appeals court panel ruling in 2014 that upheld a conviction and life sentence for Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian man who tried to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner with a bomb in his underwear on Christmas 2009.

Last year, McKeague was part of a 2-1 majority that ruled in favor of the city of Detroit in a lawsuit by city retirees whose pensions were cut in a plan to get Detroit out of bankruptcy in 2014.

Court rules allow judges to take senior status after serving at least 15 years on the federal bench. They essentially continue as volunteers and handle reduced workloads.

joosting@detroitnews.com

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