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Former Pennsylvania First Lady Midge Rendell Takes On New Role

By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Pennsylvania's former First Lady, Judge Marjorie Rendell, is giving up her full-time seat on the federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals -- but she's hardly retiring.

Judge Rendell says she may be able to have a greater impact in her new role. She'll be a senior judge, with 80 percent of a full-time caseload, and she'll be doing more work at the Rendell Center for Citizenship and Civics, an outgrowth of her focus as First Lady. She started the center just over a year ago with her husband, former governor Ed Rendell, from whom she is separated. It's currently piloting a fourth-grade civics curriculum and working with Annenberg on high school civics and a project on judicial independence.

"I'm looking forward to working with Annenberg to have impact," Rendell says. "In fact, I'm wondering whether that aspect of my life might have more impact than even what I've been doing so far."

But giving up her seat now assures that President Obama will appoint her successor, a factor that she says figured into the timing of her decision.

"He's done a pretty good job," Rendell says. "We're very fortunate that we have three new judges that Obama has picked, and our senators have been fabulous in agreeing on the nominees, because that can be an issue. So I'm hopeful that my successor would be chosen fairly promptly."

Rendell will lose her vote on en banc cases, but she says she'll still have a voice on the court where she served for 21 years.

"I think I've made somewhat of a difference, although as one of 14, you're impact is limited," Rendell says. "But just being part of the federal judiciary is just a real gift."


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