Novak on Livingston

This week’s Robert Novak column on judicial nominations has an interesting account of the nomination of Columbia University law professor Debra Livingston to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

As White House counsel, Miers has been criticized on Capitol Hill for the caliber of some recent nominees and the lethargic pace of appointments. She wanted her friend Columbia Law School Professor Debra Livingston named to the prestigious District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals. Conservatives blocked Livingston as undependable. Instead, Bush on June 29 nominated Assistant Attorney General Peter Keisler for the D.C. circuit.However, Miers maneuvered Livingston to a seat on the New York-based 2nd Circuit.

This account, if accurate, is hardly encouraging. Friendship with the White House Counsel should hardly be a key qualification to an appellate court. I would note, however, that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit is already quite liberal, and this is unlikely to change. Not only are the numbers unfavorable for conservatives, but those Senators who represent states within the Circuit are likely to block any strong conservative nominee to that court. Thus, I am more inclined to fault Miers for the slow rate of nominations than for the caliber of nominees.

UPDATE: Ed Whalen, above , reports that Novak’s account of the Livingston-Miers relationship is wrong. 

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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