Friedland, 41, attended Stanford University and its law school, from which she graduated second in her class in 2000, and was a Fulbright scholar at Oxford University in England. She worked as a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and taught law at Stanford before joining the law firm of Munger, Tolles and Olson in 2004.
While handling business cases at her firm, she has also represented the gay-rights group Equality California in challenging California's now-overturned ban on same-sex marriage and in defending a state law that prohibits therapy aimed at turning gay youths straight.
Obama first nominated her to the court in August, but Republicans blocked a Senate floor vote. Democratic leaders cleared the way for the confirmation of Friedland and other stalled Obama nominees by pushing through a repeal of filibusters in November for executive-branch appointments and judicial nominations below the Supreme Court level. Those nominations formerly needed 60 votes in the 100-seat Senate but now require only 51 votes to end debate, and a majority among senators taking part in the confirmation vote. The Ninth Circuit handles federal appeals from California and eight other Western states. Congress expanded its authorized judgeships to 28 in 1984 and to 29 in 2009, but the court has had at least one vacancy since 1992.Hat/tip to Joe Jervis