Skip to Content

Hon. Robert Dow, Jr.

USDC Judge Counselor to the Chief Justice US Supreme Court

Robert Michael Dow Jr. (born 1965) is a United States district judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and concurrently serves as counselor to Chief Justice John Roberts.

Education and Career

Born in Madison, Wisconsin, Dow received a Bachelor of Arts from Yale University in 1987, a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Oxford in 1990, and a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School in 1993. He was a law clerk for Judge Joel Flaum of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit from 1993 to 1994. He was in private practice in Chicago from 1995 to 2007. He serves as an adjunct professor at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law where he teaches complex litigation.

Federal Judicial Service

On July 17, 2007, Dow was nominated by President George W. Bush to a seat on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois vacated by Charles P. Kocoras. He received his commission on December 5, 2007.

On October 3, 2022, the Supreme Court announced that John Roberts had appointed Dow to serve as counselor to the chief justice, a role which acts as the chief justice’s chief of staff. He succeeded Jeffrey P. Minear, who retired in September 2022.

Notable Cases

  • On December 2, 2010, Judge Dow ruled against five states (MichiganPennsylvaniaOhioMinnesota, and Wisconsin), stating that five Chicago-area shipping locks will stay open despite the risk that Lake Michigan Asian carp pose to the multi-billion dollar fishing industry, saying not enough evidence was presented that indicated the danger was truly imminent. Closing the locks could undermine commerce and pose flood-control problems.