(The Return of) Ignatz, by Sam Heldman

Monday, January 06, 2003

This is what a trial balloon looks like. There is already a nominee for the current Alabama-based vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. But the White House and Senator Sessions are thinking of yanking that nomination and offering Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor instead. And they want to see how stiff the opposition to Pryor would be. So somebody tells the Birmingham newspaper; and then somebody tells #1-law-blogger Howard Bashman about the newspaper article (because surely Howard doesn't read 100 newspapers online every day, does he??) and voila, the idea is up for discussion in Alabama, among interest groups, and among the small world of appellate-law junkies.

Sometimes I wish I'd started this blog with a Greek pseudonym, rather than under the same name that I use when I sign legal pleadings and briefs; there is something unwise (from a selfish point of view) about a lawyer's taking a public stand about the composition of a court before which he practices often and whose members, once confirmed, have life tenure. But I'll be up-front about it: although Bill is a very bright guy and has grown politically during his time in the AG's office, I still don't think that he would be a good Circuit Judge. I intend to discuss this at more length later; for now, peruse his "public policy" links on the official website of the Attorney General's office, to get a flavor of where he's coming from.

UPDATE: See also this news report, which details two of the things that would be among the most contentious issues in any Senate consideration of AG Pryor's nomination: his conduct with respect to tobacco companies, and his role in increasing the partisan divisions among state Attorneys General by starting a "Republican Attorney Generals' Association" despite the fact that the tradition among holders of those offices had been to avoid such partisan divides. And this reprint of a Washington Post article about that Association.

UPDATE UPDATE: But it occurs to me that maybe I have merely been set up to play a role, that this is just a bit of pressure on liberal groups to say, "fine! fine! let's have hearings on the current nominee! just don't send up Attorney General Pryor."

posted by sam 8:31 AM 0 comments


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