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Another jawdropping Obama nomination and a Kagan update

June 25, 2010

Chatigny: Devastating take-down of an obscure nomination

By: David Freddoso
Online Opinion Editor
06/23/10 5:15 PM EDT

Before Democrats attempted to deep-six a large number of President George W. Bush’s appellate court nominees, circuit nominations rarely received much attention. But one — Robert Chatigny (pronounced SHOT-ney), President Obama’s nominee for the 2nd Circuit — is getting a lot more attention than he’d like.

This clip ran last night on Hannity:

Much of this report is emotion-driven, and surely we’ll hear again before November about how every Judiciary Committee Democrat except Diane Feinstein voted to move this nomination forward.

But setting aside the political angle, the biggest problem with Chatigny’s nomination is not the odd extremes to which he went to in order to protect a serial killer from a legally imposed death sentence, nor even his willingness to give light sentences for child pornography offenses and strike down Connecticut’s version of Megan’s Law.

The biggest problem is that Chatigny presided over the Ross serial killer case despite having previously worked for Ross as a lawyer, without making anyone else aware of that fact. In 1992, Chatigny had been asked to request leave to file a motion on Ross’s behalf. He never actually filed the motion, but he reviewed a motion written by another lawyer and “saw to it that it was filed” (his words). It wasn’t a great deal of involvement, but Chatigny himself admits that it was enough that he would have recused himself had he remembered his involvement.

But it’s quite difficult to believe that Chatigny would forget doing anything related to the most infamous case in Connecticut in at least half a century, and the only capital case there in the previous forty years. Moreover, consider his bold remarks on the case. Ross, Chatigny said at one point, should “never have been convicted. Or if convicted, he never should have been sentenced to death.”

Does that sound like someone who has forgotten he ever worked on the case? It is therefore also difficult to believe that Chatigny was honest with the committee in saying he had forgotten.

Despite the best efforts by Media Matters but Truth Doesn’t to limit the damage, Senate Democrats in tough re-elect fights are not going to be falling all over themselves to vote for this guy.

Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/blogs/beltway-confidential/chatigny-devastating-take-down-of-an-obscure-nomination-97011974.html#ixzz0rpSXwvzH

Want to read Supreme Court Justice nominee Elena Kagan’s email? UPDATED!

By: Mark Tapscott
Editorial Page Editor
06/23/10 5:05 PM EDT

Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan meets with Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M. on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

Analysis of the views and writings of Elena Kagan, President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, is beginning in earnest and the Sunlight Foundation has done something that should set a milestone in the confirmation proceedings of all major presidential nominations.

Sunlight’s Tom Lee has put thousands of Kagan’s emails from her time in government during the Clinton administration into a searchable database and posted it online so anybody and everybody can search it to their heart’s delight. You can view the database here.

For now, the emails included in the database may not represent all of those actually composed by Kagan during the Clinton years, as she may have used non-governmental email systems and some of those she did send on official systems may not have been captured.

UPDATE: Kagan’s Clinton years …

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky delivered a floor speech today that probably gives a broad look at the Senate GOP’s strategy during the Kagan confirmation hearings that start next week.

McConnell, in noting the paucity of Kagan writings in recent years and her lack of experience either in private practice or as a judge, suggests that the memos, emails and other documents she authored while serving in the Clinton administration could become the key to whether a majority of senators will vote for her to join the Supreme Court with a lifetime appointment.

And that could be a big problem for Kagan because, according to McConnell’s reading of the available documents, she was an intensely partisan political policy advisor, not an individual devoted to determining as impartially as possible the application, if any, of the law in a particular case:

“The recent release of documents relating to Ms. Kagan’s work in the Clinton White House reveals a woman who was committed to advancing a political agenda — a woman who was less concerned about objectively analyzing the law than the ways in which the law could be used to advance a political goal.

“In other words, these memos and notes reveal a woman whose approach to the law was as a political advocate — the very opposite of what the American people expect in a judge.”

McConnell was especially worried about Kagan’s notes concerning a Supreme Court case decided under Clinton – Colorado Republican Federal Campaign Committee v FEC – that to a small  degree disadvantaged Democrats in election campaigns.

In the decision, McConnell said, “the Supreme Court essentially said that the federal government couldn’t limit political parties from spending money on campaign ads called ‘independent expenditures’ that said things like, ‘Vote against Smith,’ or ‘Vote for Jones.’

“This was not an especially controversial decision, as evidenced by the fact that it was written by Justice Breyer, one of the court’s most prominent liberals. But the decision put Democrats at a political disadvantage.

“So the Clinton Administration did the same thing then that the Obama Administration is trying to do today. They considered proposals to lessen its impact — and to benefit Democrats over Republicans. And Elena Kagan worked to advance that goal as part of President Clinton’s campaign finance task force.

“Ms. Kagan’s notes reveal that finding ways to help Democrats over Republicans was very much on her mind. According to one of her notes, she wrote, and here I quote:

“‘Free TV as balance to independent expenditures? Clearly on mind of Dems — need a way to balance this.’

“The ‘balance’ Ms. Kagan is referring to here was a way for Democrats to balance what they viewed as the Republicans’ advantage in helping their candidates with independent expenditures.

“And ‘free TV,’ well, that’s a reference to Democrats wanting free television to help them out in their campaigns. Providing free TV would be a ‘significant benefit,’ Ms. Kagan wrote.

“It was also something the Clinton administration could bring about, she suggested, by simply having the FCC issue a new regulation, or by adding such a provision to legislation the White House was helping to craft.”

You can read the entire McConnell speech here.

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