R. Alexander Acosta

stephen williams stephen f williams steven williams judge.jpgIf you, like us, find Supreme Court justice sightings more thrilling than Brangelina spottings, you would have died from excitement at the portrait ceremony for Judge Stephen F. Williams.
Judge Williams is the brilliant former law professor who now sits on the venerated D.C. Circuit. Back in the day, before he assumed senior status, Stephen Williams was one of the biggest feeder judges in Christendom. He fed huge numbers of his clerks into Supreme Court clerkships, with an impressively broad spectrum of justices.
The Williams portrait ceremony was held last Friday. Stuart Buck, a former Williams clerk, offers a detailed report. Here is an excerpt:

Portrait ceremonies are evidently a big deal: I’d never been to one before, but it was probably the most legal talent that I’ve ever seen in one room. The entire D.C. Circuit was there, as were six members of the Supreme Court (all except Souter, Kennedy, and Alito).

There was a person I didn’t recognize sitting between Justices Stevens and Thomas. Judge Laurence Silberman later said in conversation that it was Judge Louis Oberdorfer — a long-time and highly respected district court judge who has to be in his late eighties now. [Ed. note: Judge Oberdorfer was also a feeder judge in his time -- especially impressive given that he's "only" a district court judge.]

Now THAT is an impressive line-up. It’s the federal judicial equivalent of Ed Limato’s Oscar pre-party, a more star-studded event than the Lori Alvino / Matt McGill wedding — and maybe even than the Ted Olson / Lady Booth wedding. (That second comparison turns on how much weight you assign to SCOTUS justices as opposed to other legal luminaries.)
Anyone have pictures from the ceremony? If so, we’d love to see them. You know how we love pictures.
And while we’re on the subject of judicial celebrity sightings, a quick follow-up to our item yesterday about Justice Alito swearing in his former clerk, Alex Acosta, as U.S. Attorney in Miami. David Oscar Markus has a firsthand account of the event, which you can check out at the S.D. Fla. Blog.
Judge Williams’ Portrait [The Buck Stops Here]*
Acosta Sworn In [Southern District of Florida Blog]
Earlier: The Eyes of the Law: Justice Alito Hits South Beach
Lady and Ted’s Excellent Adventure: Wedding Photos That Rock
The Eyes of the Law: Ted Olson’s Star-Studded Nuptials
The Eyes of the Law: Wedding Crashers
* The “s” after “Williams'” is missing in the original. Our views on this dispute are set forth here.

alex acosta r alex acosta r alexander acosta.jpgWell, we’re not sure about that part — nor can we confirm or deny whether the justice was sighted in a “banana hammock.”
But we can report that Justice Alito was recently in MIami, where he swore in Alex Acosta (at right), one of his former clerks, as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida. From the Miami Herald:

Samuel A. Alito, the U.S. Supreme Court’s newest justice, praised one of his protégés, R. Alexander Acosta, on Wednesday as he swore him in as the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida.

But Alito said that for all his formidable legal talent, Acosta betrayed one ”weakness” when he served as a law clerk in 1994 for the then-federal appellate judge.

”Alex’s knowledge of sports was a little bit lacking,” Alito deadpanned before a standing-room-only gathering of judges, prosecutors and defense lawyers in the historic central courtroom of the Miami federal courthouse.

Alito, a self-professed baseball fan, joked that Acosta probably didn’t know the difference between the Florida Marlins and the Miami Dolphins.

Even if his sports knowledge may be deficient, Acosta is a young superstar of conservative legal circles (as well as “pretty cute,” too). At the tender age of 37, he was nominated by President Bush as Miami’s U.S. Attorney — a position he was already occupying in an acting capacity.
Prior to returning to Miami, where he has deep roots in the city’s Cuban-American community, the brilliant Acosta served as head of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. His roughly two-year tenure as Assistant Attorney General was rumored to be somewhat rocky. Acosta’s fairly conservative civil rights agenda apparently did not sit well with some of the more liberal lawyers in the division, who had a different vision of what they’d be doing when they signed up for civil rights work at the Justice Department.
(If you can enlighten us further on these matters, please drop us a line.)
Alito protégé sworn in as U.S. attorney in Miami [Miami Herald via How Appealing]