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A New Chief Judge of the Tax Court and the Loss of Judge Ruwe

Posted on Feb. 28, 2022

The Tax Court has two recent news releases.

New Chief Judge

On February 25, it announced the election of Judge Kathleen Kerrigan as the newly elected Chief Judge who will begin her term on June 1, 2022.  IRC 7444(b) requires the Tax Court to elect a chief judge every two years.  The Court’s tradition for many years has been to elect a Chief Judge for two terms, though the statute imposes no term limit on the Chief Judge.  Chief Judge Foley is finishing his second term now.

The election of Judge Kerrigan continues the recent trend of electing a Chief Judge from the Tax Court judges with significant experience on Capitol Hill. With the exception of Chief Judge Marvel, the Court has been led by a Chief Judge with significant experience on Capitol Hill since 2008 when it elected Chief Judge Colvin. Perhaps it should not be surprising that judges with that experience would be selected by their peers to serve as the administrative head of the Court.

Here is the portion of the announcement providing Judge Kerrigan’s background:

Judge Kerrigan earned her B.S. from Boston College in 1985 and her J.D. from the University of Notre Dame Law School in 1990. After law school, she served as Legislative Director for Congressman Richard E. Neal. From 1998 to 2005, Judge Kerrigan was with Baker & Hostetler LLP in Washington, D.C., first as an Associate and then as a Partner. From 2005 until the time of her appointment to the Court by President Obama in 2012, Judge Kerrigan served as Tax Counsel for Senator John F. Kerry.

Passing of Judge Ruwe

On February 18, 2022, the Court announced the passing of retired Judge Robert Ruwe.  Judge Ruwe was one of the rare Tax Court judges who entered the Court from Chief Counsel, IRS.  I knew him as an executive with Chief Counsel before he joined the bench or, perhaps I should say I knew his name.  The fact that his colleagues on the Court bestowed upon him the J. Edgar Murdock Award says much about his importance to the Court.  Andy Roberson and Kevin Spencer, who clerked for Judge Ruwe, wrote a nice blog post about Judge Ruwe which you can find here.  The Court’s announcement regarding the passing of Judge Ruwe is below:

Washington, D.C. 20217
February 18, 2022


Retired Tax Court Judge Robert P. Ruwe passed away on February 12, 2022. Judge Ruwe was known for his extraordinary memory and grasp of tax law, and for the valuable experience he brought to his work.

Robert P. Ruwe was born in Ohio and graduated from Roger Bacon High School in St. Bernard. He attended Xavier University in Cincinnati on a football scholarship and graduated in 1963 with a BA and on the Dean’s List. He worked as a Special Agent for the Intelligence Division of the IRS and went to law school at night, graduating first in his class from Salmon P. Chase College of Law in 1970. He served in the Ohio National Guard at the same time.  Judge Ruwe joined the Office of Chief Counsel and rose through the ranks until he was Assistant Chief Counsel, Tax Litigation.

In 1987, President Ronald Reagan appointed him to the Tax Court. After his term ended, he served as a senior judge until his retirement in November 2020. On April 27, 2012, he received the J. Edgar Murdock Award for distinguished service to the Court. His contributions on and off the Court will be missed.

Judge Ruwe is survived by his wife (Mary Kay), four sons, twelve grandchildren, two brothers, and a legacy of mentorship, collegiality, and cogent jurisprudence.

A memorial service will occur in the coming weeks.

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