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The media is reporting that President-elect Joe Biden is planning to nominate Judge Merrick Garland, who currently sits on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, to be his Attorney General.

The linked article above noted that:

Moreover, judges are only occasionally elevated directly to the position. The last was Judge Michael B. Mukasey of Federal District Court, whom George W. Bush appointed to run the Justice Department in 2007.

Are there other past examples of a sitting or former federal judge being appointed into the Cabinet?

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Yes, there are a few more examples, although it's fairly uncommon. Since 1900, I'm aware of another ten appointees to Cabinet-level posts who previously sat as federal judges, not including Mukasey.

  • Charles Evans Hughes: Nominated by Taft in 1910 as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, and resigned to unsuccessfully contest the 1916 presidential election. In 1920, served as Secretary of State under Harding.

  • Francis Biddle: Nominated by Roosevelt in 1939 to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, where he served for a year before resigning to serve as the Solicitor General. Shortly after, in 1941, Roosevelt nominated Biddle to be his Attorney General, a position he held until 1945.

  • Fred M. Vinson: Nominated by Roosevelt in 1937 to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Served as Secretary of the Treasury under Truman from 1945 to 46.

  • James F. Byrnes: Nominated by Roosevelt in 1941 as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, subsequently became Secretary of State under Truman from 1945 to 47.

  • Lewis B. Schwellenbach: Nominated by Roosevelt in 1940 to a seat on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington. Resigned to serve as Secretary of Labor under Truman from 1945 to 48.

  • James P. McGranery: Nominated by Truman in July 1946 to a seat on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Subsequently resigned in order to serve as Attorney General under Truman from 1952 to 1953.

  • Griffin Bell: Nominated by JFK in 1961 to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Subsequently became Attorney General under Carter in 1977.

  • Shirley Hufstedler: Nominated by LBJ in 1968 to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and subsequently became the first United States Secretary of Education in 1979.

  • William H. Webster: Nominated by Nixon in 1970 to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, subsequently became the Director of the CIA in 1987 under Reagan.

  • Michael Chertoff: Nominated by Bush in 2003 to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Subsequently nominated to serve as the Secretary of Homeland Security by Bush in January 2005.

Finally, as mentioned in your question, Michael Mukasey was nominated by Reagan to serve on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in 1987, and became Bush's Attorney General in 2007.

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  • It is worth noting that Hughes having run for President and then served as Secty of Sate, was later appointed as the Chief Justice, following Taft. Taft is the only person to date who has been both President and Chief Justice (not at the same time). – David Siegel Jan 7 at 22:41

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