David J. Barron, Part 1: Unabashedly Radical

by Carrie Severino

With reelection and the exercise of the nuclear option behind him, President Obama has now nominated David J. Barron, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

This is the first of what will be several posts describing David J. Barron’s views of the law, the Constitution, and what Barron would be like as a federal judge. For a judicial nominee, Barron’s record is unusually rich, revealing his views of the law, the Constitution, and his judicial philosophy.

Barron was a judicial clerk for Judge Stephen R. Reinhardt, one of the most liberal judges on the uber-liberal Ninth Circuit, and for Justice John Paul Stevens. He worked as an Attorney-Advisor in the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) during the Clinton years and after that obtained a faculty position at Harvard Law School, where he is now a tenured professor. In 2009, after President Obama was elected, Barron rejoined OLC as Acting Assistant Attorney General and left in 2010.

Barron’s nomination is especially notable because of the strange-bedfellows coalition opposing it, at least for now. Code Pink, Republican Senator Rand Paul, the ACLU, and Democratic Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall have joined together to prevent a confirmation vote. Democratic Senators Mark Begich and Mary Landrieu are “unsure” whether they will vote for Mr. Barron’s nomination. The bipartisan opposition is refusing to proceed until they receive memos drafted or approved by Barron during his time at OLC that relate to OLC’s approval of an overseas drone strike against American citizen and terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki. OLC has refused to release the full memos thus far, preventing resolution of the conflict. (Ironically, Barron signed off on a list of proposed guidelines demanding the “timely” release of OLC memos back when George W. Bush was president.)

But there’s much more worrying information about Mr. Barron than his mere partisan inconsistency. In short, Barron is a judicial supremacist who wants to use the federal judiciary as a weapon to advance his hard-left political vision. Stay tuned.

Bench Memos

NRO’s home for judicial news and analysis.