First Circuit Nomination Surprise: William Smith

Eagle-eyed William Felkner calls my attention to this news-breaking White House Press Release

Nominations Sent to the Senate
Ricardo H. Hinojosa, of Texas, to be a Member of the United States Sentencing Commission for a term expiring October 31, 2013. (Reappointment)
Ricardo H. Hinojosa, of Texas, to be Chair of the United States Sentencing Commission. (Reappointment)
Michael E. Horowitz, of Maryland, to be a Member of the United States Sentencing Commission for a term expiring October 31, 2013. (Reappointment)
Stephen N. Limbaugh, Jr., of Missouri, to be United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Missouri, vice Donald J. Stohr, retired.
Ed Schafer, of North Dakota, to be Secretary of Agriculture, vice Mike Johanns, resigned.
William E. Smith, of Rhode Island, to be United States Circuit Judge for the First Circuit, vice Bruce M. Selya, retired.
George W. Venables, of California, to be United States Marshal for the Southern District of California for the term of four years, vice Raul David Bejarano.

Apparently, the nomination is only a suprise with respect to the very recent round of Robert Corrente-or-Robert Flanders speculation. William Smith’s name was mentioned about a year ago as one of the frontrunners for the position for the seat being vacated by Judge Selya in a Projo article by Scott MacKay.
Here’s some more biographical information on Judge Smith, from the White House website.
And John Mulligan and G. Wayne Miller have a story on the nomination in today’s Projo, including the initial reactions from Rhode Island’s Senators…
As they had the day that Mr. Bush nominated U.S. Magistrate Judge Lincoln D. Almond to the federal District Court last month, Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse declined to be interviewed about Smith’s nomination.
Instead, the Rhode Island Democrats, who will enjoy much deference from their colleagues as the Senate weighs the nomination, issued a noncommittal joint statement.
“Rhode Islanders deserve to have highly qualified judges who are thoughtful and independent,” said Reed and Whitehouse. “Before giving someone a lifetime appointment to the federal bench we need to carefully review their record. We will be sure to give Judge Smith’s nomination thorough and independent review.”

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Tom W
Tom W
16 years ago

Don’t know much about Smith, but I’m sure glad that for the time being Mr. Corrente is staying right where he is!

16 years ago

Smith was, I think, a partner at Edwards and Angell when Sen. Reed was there.
Wonder whether this has the blessing of Sen. Reed and Sen. Whitehouse?

16 years ago

Exactly, Tom W. The cause of good government in Rhode Island would have been dealt a major setback if Mr. Corrente had left the office of US Attorney.
Just a guess. Presumably, the nomination under these circumstances would go to the Senior Senator …?

W Thrash
W Thrash
16 years ago

The WH can nominate without a senate request. It is a courtesy that the senior senator (of the same party) makes the “suggestion” or “request.”
“Senators don’t ‘nominate’, Presidents nominate.” – Karl Rove’s red herring
Justice Smith may be a fine Justice, lets hope so. Unfortunately, the nature of his work doesn’t lend itself to reveal judicial philosophy.
He did work at Edwards and Angel at the same time as Reed and Whitehouse (late 80s) – he focused on West Warwick. But that doesnt mean they knew each other or they are like minded (its a big firm).
Its an odd situation. If they do know him, and confirm him, I’m not happy as he is a wolf in sheeps clothing. If they dont’ know him, or know him to be a strict constructionist, then he won’t get confirmed.
Its disappointing that the White House selected someone with such a tough battle ahead, especially in light of the easily confirmable (relatively) Flanders – but maybe they know something we don’t and Smith has more than meets the eye.
Hopefully we will get more info soon. we still want a good man/woman for the job.

16 years ago

I’m happy Corrente’s staying put for now, too.
I thought it was pretty interesting that Stephen N. Limbaugh, Jr., of Missouri was nominated for a seat, too. That’s Rush Limbaugh’s uncle.

W Thrash
W Thrash
16 years ago

Will Smith’s brother in law is Paul Cassell, a Federalist Society member and recently retired district judge. While that doesn’t mean Smith has conservative cred, it probably helped get him the nomination. I suspect we will hear more about him soon – unless the Senate sticks it in a hole waiting for the 08 election.
Honestly, I don’t know what Bush is thinking – picking someone like this will mean a tough battle – why not pick him months ago when we had time for the fight. Starting it this late in the game makes it look like Bush isn’t even making an effort. DC treats RI like dirt and it needs to stop.

Matt Jerzyk
Matt Jerzyk
16 years ago

Since last December, I have been covering the politics of this nomination.
Here is a summary:
The Cliff’s Notes version of the story is that Judge Smith was upset when his friend, Sen. Lincoln Chafee, nominated Bob Flanders to replace Judge Bruce Selya on the 1st Circuit bench. Smith’s brother in law, Paul Cassell, is a federal judge in Utah who was a former clerk for conservative Justice Scalia. Cassell is also a member of the conservative Federalist Society and led a failed crusade to overturn Miranda, the Supreme Court decision ensuring that criminal suspects must be informed of their right to consult with an attorney and of their right against self-incrimination prior to questioning by police. Both the Federalist Society and Scalia are very close to the White House and could have very easily torpedoed Chafee’s pick.
Thus, the Flanders was dead and the Smith nomination happened.

16 years ago

Unless there is some sort of back room deal between the White House and our distinguished Senators — which seems very unlikely in light of their statement — I can’t see any reason why this nomination would make it to the Senate floor before the November 2008 election.
Both Reed and Whitehouse would have every incentive to delay this thing in the hopes of a Democrat President. As home-state Senators they have nearly insurmountable veto power over confirmation. And why would they push the nomination when there is a chance that they might get to suggest someone else for the seat?

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