Kent Jordan

Third Circuit 3rd circuit 3d circuit 3d cir.jpegA few quick updates on our former stomping grounds, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit:
1. There’s been some speculation about who might be nominated for the Third Circuit seat previously held by Justice Alito. What we’re now hearing is that it’s probably going to Judge Noel Hillman, a former high-ranking Justice Department official, just confirmed to the District Court (D.N.J.).
This might be surprising, considering that Judge Hillman has barely warmed the district court bench. His investiture as a district judge took place only a few weeks ago.
Noel Hillman Noel L Hillman Noel Lawrence Hillman Noel Laurence Hillman judge Above the Law.jpgBut nominating Judge Hillman to the court of appeals actually makes political sense for the White House — especially in its current, weakened state. President Bush doesn’t have a great deal of political capital right now, and he’ll be dealing with a Democrat-controlled Senate come January (assuming Sen. Johnson hangs in there).
Picking a nominee who made it through the Senate just a few months ago would be a shrewd move. Since the two New Jersey senators supported Hillman for the district court, it would be awkward for them to oppose him for the circuit court now.
Of course, this is just a rumor. And rumors can be wrong. So stay tuned.
2. Judge Kent Jordan, formerly on the Delaware district court bench, was sworn in as the newest Third Circuit judge on Friday morning. The ceremony was small and private. Judge Jordan was confirmed by the Senate earlier this month, by a vote of 91-0, before the end of the 109th Congress.
3. Another Third Circuit nominee, Judge Thomas Hardiman (W.D. Pa.), may not be as easy a sell as one might have thought. Senate Democrats are tut-tutting him for making political contributions to Republican candidates before he was nominated for his district judgeship.
Call us cynical, but this strikes us as no big deal. Making (perfectly legal) campaign contributions to U.S. senators? How else do you become a federal judge?
Seriously, this is not a new practice. Political patronage goes back to, like, the Jackson Administration. And strategic campaign giving has been engaged in by judicial nominees on both sides of the aisle (PDF).
This is why we were unimpressed with Salon’s “four-month investigation” showing that, lo and behold, politicians reward their contributors with federal judgeships. We could have told you that in four seconds.
Noel L. Hillman bio [FJC]
Senate Confirms Kent Jordan to 3rd Circuit, Replacing Senior Judge Jane Roth [Legal Intelligencer]
Judge Kent Jordan Confirmed to the Third Circuit [How Appealing]
Kent A. Jordan bio [FJC]
Another Bush judge on the hot seat [Salon.com via How Appealing]
Thomas M. Hardiman bio [FJC]
Riding Circuit — In a Taxicab? [Underneath Their Robes]
Non-Scandal [Committee for Justice Blog]

anthony m kennedy justice.gif* Justice Anthony M. Kennedy was hospitalized and underwent surgery over the Labor Day weekend. Surgeons inserted a new stent to clear a blocked coronary artery. AMK is doing fine and is back to work. [New York Times, Washington Post; Los Angeles Times]
* The brilliant Judge Gerard E. Lynch (S.D.N.Y.) — a member of the Elect, former AUSA in the Southern District, and former Columbia Law School professor (he still teaches there part-time) — heard arguments over the legality of the NSA warrantless wiretapping program. We suspect his opinion will turn out better than Judge Anna Diggs Taylor’s effort, which was not so well-received. [New York Times]
* High-profile L.A entertainment lawyers Pierce O’Donnell and Ann Marie Mortimer, founders of O’Donnell & Mortimer, are parting ways. Mortimer will be the managing partner of Hunton & Williams’s new Los Angeles office; O’Donnell is starting a new boutique law firm that will focus on public-interest work. [Hollywood Reporter via WSJ Law Blog]
* The White House officially renominated the federal judicial nominees that were returned to it by the Senate — including a few controversial candidates, such as Terrence Boyle, William Haynes, and Michael Wallace — and also put up some new nominees. Judge Kent A. Jordan (D. Del.), nominated to the Third Circuit, will be in Washington today for his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. [WhiteHouse.gov and Wilmington News Journal, via How Appealing]