Did the White House Smear Batchelder?

Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Alice Batchelder was reportedly on the Administration’s short list for a Supreme Court vacancy at some point. According to FNC’s Brit Hume, she was struck from the list because of a record of “judicial activism.” In response to Bill Kristol’s suggestion that Batchelder would have been a better nominee on Fox News Sunday, Hume said

I can tell you this about Alice Batchelder. She was very, very closely vetted. And you know what they found? They found all kinds of evidence of activism in her record. And they were quite surprised and not pleased to find that.

Those familiar with Batchelder’s record were surprised at the charge. Over at No Left Turns, Robert Alt wonders where Hume got the idea that Batchelder is an “activist.”

When Kristol questioned this new smear tactic, Brit incredulously suggested that this is something he found on his own. But, as Brit’s first statement makes clear, the only way he could have gotten this information about White House opinion is by hearing it from the White House (unless of course he is simply reporting second hand reports—which would mean that he was engaging in rather loose reporting practices).

If the White House was the source of this charge (and other unflattering and even more spurious notions floated about Batchelder in recent weeks), it is very troubling. As Alt observes, smearing qualified candidates for the Court is no way for this administration to win back the trust and loyalty of the conservative base.

Jonathan H. Adler — Jonathan H. Adler teaches courses in environmental, administrative, and constitutional law at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

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