Rosemary Barkett’s Retirement

Last week (while I was away on vacation), Eleventh Circuit judge Rosemary Barkett announced that she would retire from that court on September 30 in order to become one of nine arbitrators on the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal in The Hague. (The Tribunal does not appear to be a model of efficiency: According to its website, all claims over which it has jurisdiction had to be filed by January 19, 1982, so its entire docket consists of claims that are more than three decades old.)

I’m very grateful to Barkett for her numerous contributions to This Day in Liberal Judicial Activism, both from her time on the Eleventh Circuit and from her previous misservice on the Florida supreme court. Her retirement will have the immediate effect of markedly improving the quality of the Eleventh Circuit, but that improvement may be only temporary, as President Obama will seek to fill her seat. And although it’s extremely unlikely that Obama would nominate someone with a record as demonstrably bad as Barkett’s was when President Clinton nominated her in 1993 (one of my earliest Bench Memos posts outlines that record), it wouldn’t be a surprise if he tries to select someone who, if confirmed, would turn out to be as bad as Barkett. Indeed, I’m reliably informed that Beverly Martin, whom Obama appointed to the Eleventh Circuit three years ago, has sometimes made Barkett look sensible by comparison. (I may have more on Martin soon.)

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