“This committee has some history with this question, and one person, that if he were applying the same standards, would come out squarely against your being qualified would be the chairman of this committee, Chair Durbin,” Ted Cruz said in a statement so bloody rich you moved up a tax bracket just by reading it.
Cruz, still channeling “Fat Wolverine” up to and including being canonically Canadian, was speaking to DC Circuit nominee Brad Garcia, currently with the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel and formerly a partner at O’Melveny & Myers arguing appeals in DC. Garcia is rated well qualified by the ABA. Cruz was comparing him to Justin Walker, a Trump-appointed DC Circuit judge who… was a Gibson Dunn associate and legal writing instructor at Louisville Law. Walker was rated not qualified (though he did bump it up to well qualified based on a year’s stint as a judge in Kentucky).
Garcia is 36. Walker was 38 when nominated. Cruz thought he’d found a clever angle throwing Durbin’s public concerns over Walker’s experience back at him.
This is going to shock you, but Cruz’s efforts at cleverness backfired.
Durbin, responding to Cruz, said that Garcia had an “extensive record.” Garcia’s advocacy includes arguing 13 cases before federal and state appellate courts, including a case before the Supreme Court, he said. Walker hadn’t “served as sole or chief counsel on any case tried to verdict or judgment,” Durbin said.
Indeed age was one of the few similarities between the resumes of the two nominees. They both went to Harvard Law and both clerked at the Supreme Court. Two paths diverged in the woods from there, with Garcia becoming a hotshot Biglaw attorney before joining the Justice Department and Walker rising from relative legal academia obscurity on the strength of a law review article love letter to Trump explaining why it’s totally cool to fire the Director of the FBI to shut down an obstruction investigation. So maybe age wasn’t the only vector of “experience” for Durbin when he questioned Walker’s qualifications for a DC Circuit job.
Also, what’s Cruz’s endgame? He did vote for Walker so is he saying Durbin’s a hypocrite but Garcia is qualified?
Meanwhile Senator John “Not The Hot One” Kennedy also pursued some asinine questions at the hearing “Given your age and your experience, are there any partners at O’Melveny & Myers that have more experience that you think would make a better addition to our courts of appeal? Are you the very best that O’Melveny has to offer?” We only nominate managing partners now? Because no one asked if Kathryn “COVID” Mizelle was the best Jones Day had to offer as an associate.
Also Mizelle was 33 so if this is a race to the age bottom, the Republicans are winning. Does anyone else get the feeling these folks only cared about Dobbs so they can put a literal fetus on the bench for a full 70 years or so? After a trimester stint as FedSoc treasurer, natch.
But Cruz is correct that the youth of judicial nominees is a little ridiculous. Maybe that’s why we should all come together around judicial term limits. If both sides didn’t feel like every nomination — especially to the Supreme Court, but not exclusively — needed to be actuarially vetted to hold lifetime office for as long as possible to keep a dead-hand stranglehold on American politics, maybe we could pick some perfectly lovely 60-year-olds to serve a few years.
Until then, this is the way the game is unfortunately played so the least you can do is hope someone with a resume like Garcia’s comes along at 36. Otherwise you get 33-year-old Mizelles waxing about the meaning of the word sanitation or 42-year-old Lawrence Van Dykes calling his circuit colleagues possessed criminals.
D.C. Circuit Nominee’s O’Melveny Work Draws Republican Focus [Bloomberg Law]
Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.