Does the President of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) make strategic use of his members? Cases in the CJEU are prepared by a ‘judge-rapporteur’ who acts as an agenda setter. I argue that the President builds the Court’s legitimacy by strategically allocating cases to select judges. Using original data on 9623 case allocations (1980–2015), I argue that suspicions about judges’ political accountability can polarize already politicized debates. The President circumvents such dynamics by appointing a rapporteur whose government holds moderate political preferences. However, politics are relevant mainly when case law is not yet developed. The need for consistency also contributes to explain judges individual-level specialization, which arguably favors the construction of a coherent case law. The results speak to the lingering effect of judges’ renewable terms – despite secret voting – as well as the importance of courts’ internal organization for judicial independence.