Bench Memos

Re: Real Bipartisanship in Judicial Nominations

I endorse Jonathan Adler’s (and Quin Hillyer’s) excellent suggestion that President-elect Obama show real bipartisanship by renominating Peter Keisler to the D.C. Circuit. (This post of mine presents some of the amazing bipartisan acclaim—and support from both the Washington Post and Los Angeles Times—that Keisler’s nomination earned.) Fourth Circuit nominee Robert Conrad, the subject of this NRO editorial, is high among the many other deserving candidates for renomination.  But I share Jonathan’s pessimism that the supposedly transcendent, messianic, postpartisan Obama will be as bipartisan as President Bush was.

For what it’s worth, I was surprised to see that Roger Gregory, the Clinton recess appointee whom Bush renominated and appointed to the Fourth Circuit, received an unimpressive ABA rating when Clinton nominated him:  substantial majority “qualified”, minority “not qualified”.  (Keisler, among the most highly regarded lawyers of his generation, unanimously received the highest rating of “well qualified”.)

Jonathan’s post also led me to discover that I erred in my recent National Review essay on President Bush’s judicial legacy when I stated that Bush had “renominated” two of Clinton’s nominees in 2001. In addition to Gregory, Bush nominated to the Second Circuit Barrington D. Parker Jr., whom Clinton had appointed to the district court.  But Clinton had never nominated Parker to the Second Circuit, so Bush’s nomination, while definitely a bipartisan gesture of goodwill, was not a renomination.  My apologies for the error (which I have now corrected).

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