* What is up with Georgia judges? Another one bites the dust: Judge Douglas Pullen leaves the bench, terminating an investigation by the Judicial Qualifications Commission. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
There was a threat of a filibuster, but it was averted. Last night, the Senate confirmed Donald Verrilli Jr. to serve as U.S. solicitor general, by a vote of 72-16.
As one might expect of an SG, Verrilli has an incredible résumé. He graduated from Yale College and Columbia Law, where he served as editor-in-chief of the Columbia Law Review, then clerked for two legendary judges, Judge J. Skelly Wright (D.C. Cir.) and Justice William Brennan.
And that was just the start of a long and phenomenally successful legal career. Let’s go drool over Don Verrilli’s credentials — and check out his net worth, which is quite robust….
Federal government lawyers are having their pay frozen. But let’s face it: you don’t don’t go into government service for the money.
You might do it for the experience. You might do it for the lifestyle. And, depending on the position, you might do it for the prestige.
Someone once said to me, “You can’t eat prestige.” “Maybe not,” I replied. “But prestige certainly is delicious!”
For a young lawyer, one of the most prestigious government gigs around is a Bristow Fellowship. These four one-year fellowships in the Solicitor General’s Office are generally regarded as second only to Supreme Court clerkships in prestige (and many Bristow Fellows later go on to clerk at the Court). You can read more about the Bristow, including the job responsibilities and the application process, on the Department of Justice website.
Earlier this month, the four Bristows for 2011-2012 were notified of their good fortune. Who are they?
[T]hat’s how law clerks are hired. That’s how baristas at Starbucks are hired. You have to ask these open-ended questions because as an employer, you don’t really know… where the pressure points or danger spots in an individual application are.
– Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal, comparing hiring law clerks to hiring Starbucks baristas, during oral argument in NASA v. Nelson.
This should not come as a huge surprise, but Solicitor General Elena Kagan was just confirmed by the Senate as to be the 112th justice of the United States Supreme Court. Kagan, the first woman to serve as Solicitor General, is the fourth woman ever to serve on the Court.
CORRECTION: I replaced “as” with “to be” after receiving this from a former White House official: “I feel compelled to point out that the Senate confirmed Kagan TO BE the 112th justice, after which President Obama likely appointed her AS the 112th justice. Marbury, Madison, etc.”
Fifty-eight Democrats and independents, as well as five Republicans, voted for Kagan. Thirty-six Republicans and one Democrat, Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, voted against the nominee.
The five Republicans who supported Kagan were Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Richard Lugar of Indiana and Judd Gregg of New Hampshire.
The current U.S. Supreme Court lineup (once Kagan is officially sworn in): Chief Justice John Roberts (Bush 43) and Justices Antonin Scalia (Reagan), Anthony Kennedy (Reagan), Clarence Thomas (Bush 41), Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Clinton), Stephen Breyer (Clinton), Samuel Alito (Bush 43), Sonia Sotomayor (Obama) and Elena Kagan (Obama).
UPDATE: In case you’re curious, President Obama’s prior SCOTUS nominee, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, was confirmed last year by a vote of 68-31, with nine Republicans in support. Three Republicans voted for Sotomayor but not Kagan: Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Christopher Bond (Mo.), and Voinovich (Ohio). Scott Brown (Mass.) — who introduced Kagan at her hearings, by the way — voted against her (but wasn’t in the Senate yet for the Sotomayor vote). So did George LeMieux (Fla.), who replaced Mel Martinez (a pro-Sotomayor Republican).
After the Kagan vote, the Divine Miss K’s successor as Harvard Law School dean, Martha Minow, sent out a celebratory email at HLS….
Tomorrow President Obama will officially announce his nomination of Elena Kagan, current Solicitor General and former Harvard Law School dean, to replace Justice John Paul Stevens on the U.S. Supreme Court. The news might get leaked unofficially tonight, so stay tuned.
We have no reason to question this prediction by Politico — and several reasons support it. The biggest clue is that Judge Diane Wood (7th Cir.), viewed by many as Kagan’s closest competitor, was notified yesterday by the White House that she (Wood) will not be the nominee.
OVERALL EXPLANATORY UPDATE: Apologies for the many updates and corrections below. The short version of what happened is that I originally reported that Judge Wood was notified yesterday that she wouldn’t be the nominee. I got some pushback on that — because it was, in fact, wrong. I corrected the item. But then, about two hours after this post first went up, Judge Wood did get a call from President Obama, informing her that he had decided to go in another direction.
UPDATE (7:00 PM): Some supporters of Judge Wood are denying that she’s out of the running. But, to the extent that Judge Wood hasn’t confirmed her getting dinged to them, I suspect she’s just trying to be a team player, by doing her part not to steal Kagan’s thunder or spoil the White House “surprise.”
UPDATE (7:30 PM): To the Wood supporters who insist she’s still waiting for a call from the White House: if she is the nominee, shouldn’t she know by now? Over at SCOTUSblog, Tom Goldstein is reporting that “[t]he Administration plans to identify its nominee in ‘guidance’ at 7:20am tomorrow morning, with a formal announcement by the President at 11am.”
CORRECTION (7:45 PM): Okay. I’m now hearing, on VERY good authority, that Judge Wood was NOT notified yesterday. So she is still (technically) in contention. I continue to believe that Kagan will be the nominee — but I’d be happy to be wrong about this, since I previously predicted that Judge Wood would be nominated. (My colleague Elie Mystal, meanwhile, has been predicting Kagan allalong.)
UPDATE (8:45 PM): I can now say — with absolute, 100 percent certainty, from the same VERY good authority — that Judge Wood was just informed that she’s not going to be the nominee. President Obama did not tell her who has been picked for the position.
In our reader poll on possible Supreme Court nominees — which is still open, by the way — Solicitor General Elena Kagan is leading the pack, at least in terms of the predictive poll. At the current time, a majority of respondents believe that she will be nominated by President Obama to the seat of Justice John Paul Stevens. (On the prescriptive side, i.e., who SHOULD be nominated to replace JPS, a plurality of you want to see Judge Diane Wood get the nod.)
So Kagan may soon be leaving the SG’s office. But new talent is coming aboard, starting in September or so, through the Bristow Fellowship program. These staggeringly prestigious fellowships allow recent law school graduates, typically coming out of clerkships with federal appellate judges (often feeder judges), to get involved in the work of the Solicitor General’s office, representing the United States before the Supreme Court.
We’re a little late in bringing you the news of the Bristow hires — they were notified weeks (even months) ago — but better late than never. A reader email reminded us that we hadn’t covered the announcement. So we did some digging and obtained their names.
So who are the new Bristow Fellows? Do we know their law schools and clerkships?
With apologies to John Paul “I’m not dead yet” Stevens, speculation has been rampant about who will replace him, if he decides to retire.
Many of the names that came up after Souter retired are bubbling back to the surface, but U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan has to be considered the front runner. Obama hasn’t said anything and Stevens is, you know, still there — but that didn’t stop the Harvard Crimson from handicapping the chances of former Harvard Law School Dean Kagan:
In the face of Justice John Paul Stevens’ impending retirement, the nomination of former Harvard Law School Dean Elena Kagan for the open seat on the Supreme Court has become a likely prospect.
If she is selected as President Barack Obama’s nominee, Kagan—who currently serves as the nation’s first female Solicitor General—will face a number of challenges on the road toward confirmation, including her lack of experience as a judge, her religious background, and her stance on the military.
Man, the “impending retirement” of J.P. Stevens is turning into a a Monty Python skit. But, so long as we’re here, let’s take another look at that religious question. It might be the only thing that could scuttle Kagan’s ascendancy to the high Court…
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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