Bench Memos

D.C. Circuit Nominee Pillard’s Rather Belated Endorsement of Estrada

In her response (submitted today) to a post-hearing written question, D.C. Circuit nominee Cornelia Pillard found it convenient to gratuitously volunteer her supposed view that Miguel Estrada—nominated to the D.C. Circuit by President Bush in 2001 but filibustered by Senate Democrats—“was well qualified to serve on the D.C. Circuit and should have been confirmed.” Gee, what a moderate she must be.

Here’s the Q&A (emphasis added):

[From Senator Grassley:] Miguel Estrada has a professional background similar to yours. Much of the objection to his nomination was focused on the request that internal Solicitor General memoranda be provided to the Committee. Do you think that was an appropriate request, and would it be appropriate for you to provide similar materials to the Committee in support of your nomination? Please explain.

Response: Miguel Estrada and I were colleagues in the Office of the Solicitor General, and we were law school contemporaries at Harvard and fellow editors on the Harvard Law Review. Based on what I know of Mr. Estrada, I do not believe there was any need to review any internal Solicitor General memoranda to conclude that he was well qualified to serve on the D.C. Circuit and should have been confirmed.

Although I have not studied the question, I appreciate that there are strong reasons to protect the confidentiality of the decision making processes in the Solicitor General’s Office. As many former Solicitors General have attested, candid advice on difficult and often controversial legal questions is facilitated by the assurance that the advice will be kept confidential. Any decision about disclosure of internal memoranda of the Office of the Solicitor General, were they sought, would properly rest with the executive branch. The executive branch position presumably would be informed by an assessment of the desirability and lawfulness of maintaining the long-standing policy of confidentiality of such memoranda.

Unfortunately for Estrada, back when it might have mattered, Pillard did not see fit to sign the September 19, 2002, letter in support of his nomination submitted by lawyers, with “varying ideological views and affiliations that range across the political spectrum,” who served with him in the Office of the Solicitor General.

(One might argue that even Pillard’s apparent current endorsement of Estrada’s nomination doesn’t mean what the reader might readily take from it. Perhaps Pillard means only that there was a sufficient basis on which someone might have concluded, without reviewing internal OSG memoranda, that Estrada was “was well qualified to serve on the D.C. Circuit and should have been confirmed.” But that would simply mean that Pillard is being remarkably deceptive in another respect.)

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Kat Timpf Chased Out of Brooklyn Bar

Fox News personality and National Review contributor Kat Timpf was forced to leave a bar in Brooklyn over the weekend after a woman she had never met became enraged upon learning she worked in conservative media. Timpf, who has twice previously been harassed while socializing in New York City, first described ... Read More
Film & TV

The Dan Crenshaw Moment

Given the spirit of our times, things could have gone so differently. On November 3, when Saturday Night Live comic Pete Davidson mocked Texas Republican Dan Crenshaw’s eye patch, saying he looked like a “hit man in a porno movie” — then adding, “I know he lost his eye in war or whatever” — it was a ... Read More

The Present American Revolution

The revolution of 1776 sought to turn a colony of Great Britain into a new independent republic based on constitutionally protected freedom. It succeeded with the creation of the United States. The failed revolution of 1861, by a slave-owning South declaring its independence from the Union, sought to bifurcate ... Read More

Florida’s Shame, and Ours

Conspiracy theories are bad for civic life. So are conspiracies. I wonder if there is one mentally normal adult walking these fruited plains -- even the most craven, abject, brain-dead partisan Democrat -- who believes that what has been going on in Broward County, Fla., is anything other than a brazen ... Read More

Fire Brenda Snipes

Brenda Snipes, the supervisor of elections in Florida’s Broward County, does not deserve to be within a thousand miles of any election office anywhere in these United States. She should be fired at the earliest possible opportunity. Snipes has held her position since 2003, in which year her predecessor, ... Read More