Friday, June 24, 2005


Supreme Court possibilities

For those readers who are only now starting to familiarize themselves with the short list of President Bush's possible nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court, this article in Thursday's Wall Street Journal is a fantastic start. I have been studying potential judges since President Bush was first elected in 2000, and the WSJ article is a great introduction to the field. It is a bit light on recent objections to Judge McConnell (which surfaced nearly two weeks ago). My preferences haven't changed much lately. In order, they are:

1) Judge Michael Luttig (4th Circuit)
2) Judge Samuel Alito (3rd Circuit)
3) Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson (4th Circuit)

This excellent article - one of the first to talk to actual people inside the Bush White House - in Thursday's Chicago Tribune declared that I should be happy with how the selection process is progressing, with Luttig and Alito being recently interviewed. (Hat tip and discussion: The Supreme Court Nomination Blog.) As I mentioned earlier today, I cannot support Alberto Gonzales. The strike against Wilkinson is his age (61), a decade older than Luttig. Judge Roberts has a nearly invisible paper trail - much like Justice Souter before he was nominated. While that might help him in the confirmation process, I would hope that conservatives have learned their lesson from the disaster that was Justice Souter's nomination. Judge McConnell looks equally as unreliable on key issues. In any case, the Tribune report was good news, indeed.

Luttig would be an excellent choice. I am currently involved in some rather contentious and complex litigation that ultimately made its way to the 4th Circuit. At oral argument, the vast majority of questioning came from Judge Luttig. He clearly understood the issues better than any other member of the panel, as well as most of the attorneys representing the numerous parties. He had read the briefs and picked them apart. He pulled no punches and tossed no softballs – not even to the side he was clearly leaning toward. The best part, however, was when the most liberal member of the panel chimed in with additional questions that built on those posed by Judge Luttig. When the unanimous opinion was released, it was the liberal member of the panel who actually wrote what most attorneys who practice in this particular area of the law would consider to be a very conservative majority opinion – no doubt influenced by Judge Luttig.
Right Knight -

Thanks for the excellent personal account! I have never personally met Judge Luttig - my experience with him was limited to a letter rejecting my application for a judicial clerkship - but everything I have read and those with whom I have spoken all indicate that his conservative influence reaches far beyond his released opinions.

Again, thanks!


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