The Corner

Law & the Courts

Re: Trump to Get a New D.C. Circuit Vacancy to Fill

President Donald Trump speaks to reporters as he departs for travel to N.C. from Washington, D.C., February 7, 2020. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

A quick addendum to my post from yesterday on the new D.C. Circuit vacancy. In addition to the individuals I mentioned as possible short-listers for to replace Judge Griffith, here are a few more folks to keep an eye on: acting associate attorney general Claire Murray, Latham & Watkins partner Roman Martinez (a former Kavanaugh and Roberts clerk who worked in the solicitor general’s office), and judge Justin Walker of the U.S. District Court of Western Kentucky. As I said before, the pool of potential nominees is strong and deep.

For those who think a district court judge from Kentucky would be an unusual choice for the D.C. Circuit, recall that many thought the same thing when President Reagan tapped a federal district judge from North Carolina for the D.C. Circuit. Influential senators wanted judge David Sentelle on an appellate court, and there were no seats on the Fourth Circuit, so the D.C. Circuit it was (and, as a former Sentelle clerk, I must say it worked out quite well!).  So if a certain senator from Kentucky pushes hard for Walker, there’s ample precedent for that sort of pick. (Indeed, Judge Griffith was nominated due to the efforts of senator Orrin Hatch.)

While those of us who specialize in administrative law tend to prefer administrative law specialists for the D.C. Circuit, there is value in having judges with a broader range on that court. Given the range of folks the administration is likely to consider, it is hard to fathom they will make a bad choice.

Jonathan H. Adler — Mr. Adler is an NRO contributing editor and the inaugural Johan Verheij Memorial Professor of Law at Case Western Reserve University School of Law. His latest book is Marijuana Federalism: Uncle Sam and Mary Jane.

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