Bench Memos

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Hamilton Does Not Equal Bipartisanship


When he ran for President, Obama said he’d set new and higher standards for bipartisanship in many things, including judicial nominations.    Higher than President George W. Bush, that is, one of whose first acts of federal judicial appointment was to renominate President Clinton’s holdover nominee, Roger Gregory, to the 4th Circuit. President Bush went further in bipartisanship, elevating Clinton appointee Barrington Parker from the district court to the 2nd Circuit. And later in his administration, President Bush renominated Helene White, another former Clinton nominee who had been stalled, to the 6th Circuit. That’s at least three Clinton judges who were confirmed to the federal Circuit Courts of Appeal under President Bush.   Today, the White House is hailing its first federal appellate nominee, Judge David Hamilton, an ACLU liberal and long Democratic political player, as some kind of bipartisan step.   It’s not clear why they think appointing a long-active Democrat who was a leader in the ACLU (and was certainly not a Bush nominee) is “bipartisanship.”   When President Obama renominates a few Bush holdover appointees, such as Peter Keisler to the D.C. Circuit and Rod Rosenstein and Robert Conrad to the 4th Circuit, we can begin to assess whether President Obama has even met – to say nothing of exceeded — President Bush’s level of bipartisanship in judicial nominations.   We’re still waiting . . . and Hamilton does NOT count.


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