Thursday, October 13, 2011

No On Nathan

In spite of no votes from Sen. Collins and Sen. Snowe, the nomination of Alison Nathan to US District Court was approved today by the US Senate. She will become only the second "out" lesbian to serve in the federal judiciary.

It's not clear why Collins opposed the nomination--there's no explanatory press release on her website as of this writing.

But given her support for truly fringe Bush administration nominees like Priscilla Owen and Janice Rogers Brown, you'd think she might want to explain her decision to vote against a trailblazer like Nathan, about whom Betsy Smith, executive director of Equality Maine said, via e-mail, "[her] qualifications are superb and [her] presence reflects the diversity of our country."


Anonymous said...

Maybe its because of her Nathan's complete lack of relevant legal experience. While she has held some high profile positions – Associate White House Counsel, Supreme Court Law Clerk -- she is woefully lacking in courtroom experience. According to the ABA’s Committee on the Federal Judiciary, which rates prospective federal judges,

"a prospective nominee to the federal bench ordinarily should have at least twelve years’ experience in the practice of law. In evaluating the professional qualifications of a prospective nominee, the Committee recognizes that substantial courtroom and trial experience as a lawyer or trial judge is important. Distinguished accomplishments in the field of law or experience that is similar to in-court trial work—such as appearing before or serving on administrative agencies or arbitration boards, or teaching trial advocacy or other clinical law school courses—may compensate for a prospective nominee’s lack of substantial courtroom experience."

Ms. Nathan has only been an attorney for 11 years, a year short of the ABA’s preferred 12 years’ experience; seven of those 11 years were in non-practicing capacities (e.g., professorships, government counsel). Moreover, during the four years she was a practicing attorney, according to her own statements she never appeared as sole or chief counsel in matters before a court, and she only argued motions and appeals in court “occasionally.”

To be an effective trial court judge, one needs to be well versed in the mechanics of trying a case; and the District Court bench is not the place one should first gain litigation experience.

It's great she's the first open Lesbian on the federal bench, but that's not reaon enough to have voted for her.

Collins Watch said...

Since Collins and Snowe voted for Bush appointees with a similar level of experience, I think it's pretty safe to say that's not the issue here.

Anonymous said...

Not correct. While you could correctly argue that she has voted for nominees with similar overall ABA ratings ("Majority Qualified, Minority Not Qualified"), she has never supported a nominee for the District Court bench with so little actual litigation experience.

Collins Watch said...

Anyone can contrive standards, after the fact, to rationalize egregious decision-making. But if you think that Collins pored over Nathan's paperwork and came to a good faith conclusion that the nominee was less fit to serve on the federal court than the various extreme and under-qualified Bush appointees she supported...then you've drank the Kool-Aid and then some.

Anonymous said...

And apparently anyone can ignore the facts when inconvenient to their argument.