This month the President resubmitted 28 district and circuit judge nominations to the Senate. A few controversial names were abandoned. The remainder, as selections from Mr. Screw-the-constitution, are worth eyeballing. “Merit” has been redefined as “Do you promote the Bush Agenda?”
The President’s list doesn’t shine to reflect the importance and power of federal judges. I’ve grouped some of the district court nominations to make this easier to skim, saving the other nominations for future diaries.
Mary O. DONOHUE
Seen as “lackluster and virtually anonymous,” she has been opposed by Sen. Schumer. From 1999 – 2006 Donohue was Lt. Gov. under Gov. Pataki, who then appointed her to the bench in the state court of claims. She bombed as Pataki’s running mate.
The specter of Donohue in charge of New York might be enough to prompt a statewide stampede to the Democrats. The Republicans added her to the ticket four years ago because she was blond and leggy …
Again, how has she earned a lifetime job as a judge?
Pataki’s inspector general since 1995, [she] would be the first U.S. attorney in Brooklyn without any credentials as a federal prosecutor in at least the last 30 years.
Her coziness with high-level Pataki aides and look-the-other-way reputation didn’t help. Neither did delaying the release of an audit of state architectural contracts to the governor’s next-door neighbor and in-law until her nomination for U.S. Attorney was in trouble.
Another Republican wolf in judge’s robes?
You’d think Bush could find well-qualified candidates. New York is big enough to have, oh, at least a few.
Vanessa Lynne BRYANT
In a rare move, the ABA rated her not qualified. She was a bond attorney before her eight years with the Connecticut superior court, principally in administrative positions. She has no huge volume of written work to analyze. The ABA team had interviewed 65 lawyers and judges, and spent over two hours interviewing Judge Bryant. Judge Bryant is pleasant off the bench, but rigid in court business. They heard a large number of adverse comments about (1) her judicial temperament (“arrogant and unreasonable” “rude to litigants” “impatient” “erratic” “ill-tempered”) and (2) her competence (“opinions poorly done” “snap judgments” “lacks significant trial experience” “may not bother to do legal research”).
Republican Connecticut Gov. Rell recommended her to President Bush, and the state’s Attorney General testified on her behalf before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senators Dodd and Lieberman supported her.
Bryant would be the first black woman named as a federal judge in New England.
How can Judge Bryant still have so much juice if she is so unqualified? Could it be her husband, Tracy L. Rich, Executive V. P. and General Counsel of the Phoenix Companies? Mr. Rich was appointed by Gov. Rell to the Connecticut Ethics Commission.
That Judge Bryant hasn’t asked to withdraw her name is testament to an enormous ego. She embarrasses everyone. Shame on Governor Rell.
Joseph S. VAN BOKKELEN
Sen. Lugar is promoting him.
As U.S. Attorney, Van Bokkelen has built a reputation for leading a string of high-profile public corruption cases, as well as a steady stream of gun, drug and gang prosecutions.
Picayune public corruption cases can be high profile on slow news days. The man is 64. His appointment has been seen as reward for “tenacious pursuit” of Lake County Democrats.
Doesn’t matter about qualifications; this is little more than a payback. It all makes you wonder about the GOP philosophy of filling the courts with young Republicans to have an impact on the direction of the federal judiciary for decades to come. … makes Republican criticism of Lake County Democrats giving jobs to campaign workers pale in comparison.
In addition to Van Bokkelen and Mauskopf, above:
Heidi M. PASICHOW D. C. Superior Court
This Assistant U.S. Attorney has made a name with anti-porn prosecution. And this is a reward.
Attorney General Gonzales has prioritized adult ponography cases, even though that reduces resources available for prosecuting terrorism, money laundering, public corruption, and other activities far more dangerous to the public weal.
With the rapid growth of Internet pornography, stamping out obscene material has become a major concern for the Bush administration’s powerful Christian conservative supporters.
LITIGATORS REPRESENTING BIG BUSINESS and GOVERNMENT
Nora Barry FISCHER Pennsylvania
A Pittsburgh trial lawyer she has represented General Electric in toxic tort and product liability cases for more than 18 years.
Martin Karl REIDINGER North Carolina
Buncombe Co. NC Bar Pres. 2003-2004, practices in Asheville.
Thomas D. SCHROEDER North Carolina
A Winston-Salem trial lawyer with extensive complex litigation experience in several jurisdictions, he was lead trial counsel for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company in a multi-billion dollar cost reimbursement lawsuit.
Thomas Alvin FARR North Carolina
Representing management in employment law, he has been named one of North Carolina’s Super Lawyers. Many years ago he was an attorney with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and counsel to the U.S. Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee.
William Lindsay OSTEEN, Jr. North Carolina
Nominated to replace his father (retiring), as part of his Greensboro practice he won a county’s right to display “In God We Trust” on front of its government center.
THE CATHOLIC CONNECTION — Right-to-Life?
John Preston BAILEY West Virginia
Rated simply “qualified” by the ABA, he practices criminal defense and civil litigation in Wheeling, was president of the WV State Bar and is on the Diocesan Sexual Abuse Review Board for the local Catholic Diocese.
OTHERWISE ULTRA CONSERVATIVE
Benjamin Hale SETTLE Washington State
In private practice since 1977, representing hospitals and municipalities, he lacks judicial experience altogether. However, he hosted a fundraiser for Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi and worked on several Slade Gorton campaigns.
James Edward ROGAN California
Nominated for the nation’s busiest federal court, he is a former congressman who prosecuted Clinton’s impeachment.
A few nominees are magistrate judges of varying experience.
The President can’t whine and pule that Democrats are unreasonably delaying appointments of people with sterling credentials, when most are silver-plate and some downright rusted. The Committee for Justice, which advises the President on nominations, creates a we-they simplistic dichotomy, echoing the President’s good-evil Biblical mindset: “we,” with conservative candidates, are “constitutionalist” and “they,” with the other candidates, are “activist.” Strangers to high standards, pretending to a corner on the market of devotion to the Constitution, they certainly have no call to their demand for an up or down vote by the full Senate.
I expect the Judiciary Committee to hold out for well-qualified candidates, and nothing less. They shouldn’t waste their time with hearings on this bunch. Approve the best and send the rest back.