First Woman President of the Federal Supreme Court

von Peter Bert

As of today, Bettina Limperg is the first woman president of the Federal Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof) in the court’s history. Since 1950, eight men had held the office.

Bettina Limperg was born in Wuppertal in 1960. Her career is typical for judges in high offices, in particular the secondment as a “clerk” to one of the higher courts in Germany. If you look at the CVs of other federal judges, you will often see these types of secondment, and a mix of judicial and administrative experience, often first gained at a smaller court before promotion to a larger court. As President Limperg rose through the ranks of the judiciary in Baden-Württemberg, her experience also included time spent in the public prosecutor’s office, as is common in some federal states, primarily in the South. There, law graduates joining the judiciary traditionally first serve as prosecutors (Staatsanwalt).

After obtaining her law degree at Freiburg University and passing the second state exam, President Limperg joined the judiciary in the state of Baden-Württemberg. Between 1989 and 1992, she held positions as a public prosecutor (Staatsanwalt), judge at the Local Court (Amtsgericht) and the District Court (Landgericht) Stuttgart, before being appointed a life judge at the Stuttgart District Court. From 1994 to 1995 she was seconded to the Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) as a “clerk” to Judge Ernst-Wolfgang Böckenförde ...

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