Obama names chief judge to top tax court

President Obama on Monday named Patricia Campbell-Smith to be the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, one of the top tax courts in the country.

Campbell-Smith has been serving as a judge on the court since Sept. 19, when she began a 15-year term. She was confirmed by the Senate on Sept. 17 after being nominated in March.

The White House made the designation because current Chief Judge Emily Hewitt’s term is ending and the designation does not need to be Senate confirmed, the Obama administration explained.

The Court said that Hewitt's last day on the job will be Tuesday and the judges held a gavel-passing ceremony on Monday.

“I am proud to designate Judge Campbell-Smith to serve as Chief Judge on the United States Court of Federal Claims,” said President Obama.  “She has a long and distinguished record of service, and I am confident she will serve with distinction.”

The U.S. Court of Federal Claims, located steps from the White House front door, hears complex litigation related to federal legislation and regulation. It is organized under the legislative Article I of the Constitution and its judges are not given life tenure.

Major cases before the court have included claims related to federal vaccination programs.  Campbell-Smith previously served as a special master overseeing the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program which deals with individuals claiming to be injured by vaccines.

According to the court, another quarter of its docket relates to tax refunds, one third relates to government contractor disputes, and an increasing number of cases deal with environmental and natural resource claims.