In our detailed review of possible nominees for the two open Fifth Circuit seats in Texas, we mentioned Texas’s Solicitor General, R. Ted Cruz, as a possible nominee.
After we dropped his name, a number of you wrote in to share your thoughts about him (as frequently happens after we mention someone in these pages). Here are some of your comments:
“Ted Cruz is brilliant — and he knows it. In this respect, he’s like his former boss, ex-Fourth Circuit Judge J. Michael Luttig. And in both cases, the arrogance is actually warranted.”
“Ted Cruz is a smartest of all the people whose names you floated (probably even including Greg Coleman, but that’s a close call). Cruz is a former Luttig and Rehnquist clerk, and not surprisingly, he’s very well-connected politically. Prior to taking the Texas SG job, he served in the Bush Administration. If nominated, he could face some opposition. He’s very conservative — but when it counts, it’s mostly in a cute libertarian/old Federalist Society sort of way. And he’s very, very political — he may not be an easy sell in a 52-48 51-49 Senate itching to do some damage.”
“Before Ted Cruz was one of America’s top young conservative lawyers, he was a force to be reckoned with on the college parliamentary debate circuit. Debaters would pratically pee in their pants upon learning they’d be going up against him!”
In sum, Ted Cruz is a brilliant, conservative, high-powered Latino lawyer. So why did we call him only an outside possibility for the 5th Circuit?
Is it because he might engender Democratic opposition? Actually, no. Considering that President Bush just resubmitted four controversial circuit court nominees, it’s clear he’s still ready to rumble with the Dems. The White House would probably be fine with nominating Cruz if he wanted a Fifth Circuit seat.
And therein lies the rub. These days we’re hearing that Cruz actually does NOT want to get appointed to that court. At an earlier point in his legal career, a Fifth Circuit seat might have been his dream job (en route to a seat on the Supreme Court). But the latest rumor is that Ted Cruz has grown more interested in elective office lately.
So expect him to run for some prominent elected position in the not-too-distant future. Texas Attorney General? Governor of the Lone Star State? A position representing Texas in the U.S. House or Senate? The sky is the limit for someone as talented as Ted Cruz. R. Ted Cruz bio [Trolp.org] Ted Cruz [Wikipedia] Earlier: Some Fifth Circuit Scuttlebutt
Today’s sessions at the Federalist Society annual conference kicked off with a speech by Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), the current (but outgoing) chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. His remarks, which focused on the judicial nominations process, were engaging and informative. The crowd enjoyed his dry wit.
We may have more to say about Senator Specter’s address later. For now, a quick account of our exchange with him during the question-and-answer session. When it was our turn to question Senator Specter, we asked:
Senator Specter, as the current chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, do you have any thoughts on specific individuals who might be suitable nominees to the Supreme Court? And on a related note, what do you think of Senator Chuck Schumer’s suggestion of you as a possible nominee?
The Senator took the second question first. His good-natured, joking response (paraphrased):
It’s the best idea he’s had in a decade. In fact, it’s the only good idea he’s had in a decade!
Senator Specter went on to note that, back in 1971, he was talked about as a possible Supreme Court nominee (according to the Nixon tapes). He quipped that 1971 “would have been a better time” than today.
Finally, with respect to opining on possible SCOTUS nominees, the senator demurred. He noted that while he certainly could offer some names, as part of the Senate’s “advise and consent” function, he would exercise his discretion not to speak on the subject. He said he expected President Bush to appreciate that decision.
* It’s finally here: Ohio State vs. Michigan. And the respective law school deans are getting in on the wagering. Dean Nancy Hardin Rogers of Ohio State and Dean Evan Caminker of Michigan cleverly weave law with the age-old rivalry. Dean Rogers asks: “A burning question among the national media is whether the outcome in Columbus on Saturday will have res judicata effect between these two teams, or whether the loser will be able to appeal for a trial de novo at the National Championship game in January.” [WSJ Law Blog]
[Ed. note: Dean Caminker (pictured at right) is no stranger to the pages of Above the Law. ATL readers recently voted him the Hottest Law School Dean in America, an award that he accepted graciously.]
* Law students help uncover more possible violations at Gitmo. [MSNBC]
* Church and state are at it again. [Opinion Journal via How Appealing]
* John Dean chimes in on the re-nominations controversy. [FindLaw]
* Bobbleheads of Justices Kennedy and Stevens are up for bidding on eBay, with proceeds going to chairty. [SCOTUS Blog]
* O.J.’s “confession”? The trial of the century takes a twisted PR turn, years later. [CNN]
* President Bush intends to renominate, to the lame duck Senate, some of the judicial nominees who were not previously confirmed, before the Democrats swept the midterm elections. Interesting strategy. [New York Times]
* Don’t mess with Texas['s judicial independence]. [SCOTUSBlog]
* The HP debacle: you thought it was over, but really it’s just beginning. Patty Dunn enters a plea of not guilty. [Los Angeles Times]
* Brutal brawl breaks out in an Ohio courtroom. [CNN Video]
Fantasy football, after the jump.
President Bush renominated six previously blocked candidates for federal appeals court yesterday, triggering the first real battle with ascendant Democrats since the midterm elections and signaling what could be the start of a fierce two-year struggle over the shape of the federal judiciary.
The move heartened conservatives who worried that Bush would scale back his ambition to move courts to the right and outraged liberals, who called it a violation of the spirit of bipartisanship promised since Democrats captured Congress. Both sides saw it as a possible harbinger for the remainder of Bush’s presidency, particularly if a Supreme Court vacancy opens.
Senator Schumer’s predictable reaction: he squealed like a stuck pig. “It’s a real slap in the face,” he said.
(C’mon, Senator Leahy, you’re the incoming Senate Judiciary Chairman. Why is Senator Schumer getting quoted in these articles instead of you? Tell your press people to get on the ball — or tell Chuck to back off a little. Don’t let him steal your thunder!)
The six resubmitted nominees included the four so-called “radioactive” nominees: William J. Haynes II (Fourth Circuit), William G. Myers III (Ninth Circuit), Terrence W. Boyle (Fourth Circuit), and Michael B. Wallace (Fifth Circuit). The other two nominees, Norman Randy Smith (Ninth Circuit) and Peter D. Keisler (D.C. Circuit), are far less controversial.
Our take: President Bush is trying to bargain with the Democrats, and resubmitting the six nominees is the equivalent of making a lowball offer. He knows the Dems won’t take it; but he’s left ample room for negotation.
By starting off the negotations at this price point, President Bush is hoping to get at least Smith and Keisler confirmed. If the Democrats refuse to move on all six resubmitted nominees, they can be branded as obstructionist. Whereas if President Bush sent over only two nominees (Smith and Keisler), and the Senate did nothing, it wouldn’t look as bad as stalling on six — yes, six — judicial picks.
In addition, President Bush submitted four new judicial nominations to the Senate. But they’re nominees to district courts and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces — not so sexy. (In case you’re curious, their names are in the White House press release.) Bush Renominates Judicial Picks [Washington Post] Bush to Put Nominations Back on Table [New York Times] Don’t Despair: Strong Justices Can Still Be Confirmed [National Review] Nominations Sent to the Senate [WhiteHouse.gov] Earlier: Some Ruminations on Nominations
Thanks to everyone who responded to our request for gossip about possible Fifth Circuit judicial nominations. Your tips were very helpful to us, as was this piece in the Texas Lawyer.
(And thanks to Peter Harrell, a current law student and former political reporter for Congressional Quarterly, for this insightful comment. A good point. With respect to some judicial nominees, the Democrats will probably try “killing them softly,” with procedural mechanisms. But the Dems should be careful. If they do TOO much of this, they will look obstructionist. And Pelosi and pals are saying that they’re in D.C. to get things done.)
Anyway, re: the 5th Circuit, this is what we’re hearing:
1. There are two Texas seats on the Fifth Circuit to fill: those of Judge Patrick Higginbotham and Judge Harold DeMoss. (For the vacant Mississippi seat, Michael Wallace is the White House’s pick; but he doesn’t seem to be going anywhere right now.)
2. A package deal of two nominees is likely. One would be a so-called “diversity pick,” i.e., a minority or a woman, and one would be a “regular” pick.
(Some Senate Republicans are not thrilled about the idea of a diversity pick. But the Democrats taking over the Senate next year, diversity picks will probably only increase.)
3. For the “diversity” seat, the leading candidates are two Texas state court judges: Justice George C. Hanks, Jr., an African-American appeals court judge; and Judge Jennifer W. Elrod, a well-regarded trial court judge.
(Yes, Judge Elrod is quite attractive — in a perky, “Jennifer Aniston” sort of way. But please do not confuse her with Jennifer Elrod, “Famous Centerfold and Celebrity.” Judge Elrod uses that middle initial for a reason.)
4. For the “regular” seat, the process right now is focused upon two individuals: Judge Sidney A. Fitzwater (N.D. Tex.), a Reagan appointee to the federal trial bench, and Gregory S. Coleman, a partner in the Austin office of Weil, Gotshal & Manges.
5. A grab bag of other possibilities, but not as likely as the four just mentioned: Judge David Godbey (N.D. Tex.); Judge Jane Boyle (N.D. Tex.); Judge Lee H. Rosenthal (S.D. Tex., and a woman); Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson, of the Texas Supreme Court; Justice Jane Bland, of the Texas First Court of Appeals; Texas Solicitor General R. Ted Cruz; and Professor Ernest A. Young, of the University of Texas School of Law (Austin).
These are the basics. If you’re a real judicial junkie, check out our additional observations, after the jump.
“It’s going to be much harder to get hardline conservatives through,” says Michael Seidman, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center. Mr. Bush’s “history isn’t to move to the center much, but, then again, he’s never been in this situation.”
[S]ome political analysts and others don’t see the new crop of senators, many with reasonably conservative bents, significantly changing Senate voting patterns. Columbia University law professor Michael Dorf points to the Senate race in Rhode Island where moderate Republican Lincoln Chafee was ousted, and to the Pennsylvania and Virginia races, in which relatively conservative Democrats were voted in.
“These are really marginal changes,” says Mr. Dorf. In his opinion, the power-shift will be most visible at the committee level. “The Democrats will now be able to steer the process,” he says.
We’re somewhere in the middle. Our thoughts on the process, after the jump.
It’s official: The Democrats now control the Senate, too. Everyone has called the Virginia Senate race for Jim Webb, and George Allen just conceded.
So this means that the super-powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, which plays a crucial gatekeeping role in the judicial confirmation process, will be chaired by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT). Here’s the key paragraph from his bio:
At 34, he was the youngest U.S. Senator ever to be elected from the Green Mountain State. Leahy was born in Montpelier and grew up across from the Statehouse. A graduate of Saint Michael’s College in Colchester (1961), he received his Juris Doctor from Georgetown University Law Center (1964).
He served for eight years as State’s Attorney in Chittenden County. He gained a national reputation for his law enforcement activities and was selected (1974) as one of three outstanding prosecutors in the United States.
When White House Counsel Harriet Miers was nominated to the United States Supreme Court, her friend and ex-boyfriend, Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht, rushed to her side. In numerous interviews with the news media, he praised his former paramour to the heavens.
Justice Hecht’s reward for such loyalty? Being haled before the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct, which reprimanded him for violating the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct. The Commission concluded that he violated prohibitions on a judge “advanc[ing] the private interests of the judge or others” and “authoriz[ing] the public use of his or her name endorsing another candidate for any public office.”
Thankfully, the reprimand has been dismissed. A special three-judge panel, convened by the Texas Supreme Court, has found Hecht not guilty of the charges. The panel’s lengthy opinion, which we’ve only skimmed, turns on how to construe a number of terms in the Texas Code that haven’t been adequately developed in the case law. The full decision is available here (PDF).
Our reaction? We’re pleased to see that chivalry is not dead in the Lone Star State. No Reprimand in Judge’s Support of Miers [Associated Press] Panel Clears Texas Supreme Court Justice [Austin American-Statesman via How Appealing] Justice Nathan L. Hecht [Texas Judiciary Online]
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The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
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The last time I flapped my wings your way, I tried to make at least enough noise about your mobile phone to make you more than a little bit uncomfortable. I hope I did. If enough of us become anxious enough about the known and unknown unknowns and knowns in our mobile phones, then we can start making wise decisions about how to manage that information and its resultant investigations.
Today, I’d like to put a finer point on the last installment’s topic by asking a question that seemed to catch most attendees off-guard at a conference panel that I moderated last week: is there discoverable personal information in a mobile app? Our panelists’ answer was a uniform “yes” with one stating that, if he had to choose only one type of data that he could discover from a mobile phone, he’d choose app data. Why? Because there’s simply so much of it and because almost all of it is objective – not just user-created like an email – but machine-tracked like GPS, usage duration, log in and log out times, browsed web addresses, browsed actual addresses. Also, most of us seem to have the idea that data doesn’t actually “stick” to our mobile devices the way it “sticks” to our hard drives. Maybe there’s a disconnect based on the fact that our phones are mobile so we assume the data is mobile to?
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