A look at the 10 people picked by President Donald Trump for positions on federal courts:
NAME: Joan Larsen
CURRENT POSITION: She was a University of Michigan law professor when Republican Gov. Rick Snyder appointed her to the Michigan Supreme Court in 2015. Larsen was a law clerk for late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in the 1990s.
NOMINATED TO: 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.
EDUCATION: Law degree, Northwestern University law school, 1993; bachelor’s degree, University of Northern Iowa, 1990.
NOTABLE: Because of her short tenure, Larsen has written only a handful of majority opinions on the Michigan court. She considers criminal law and constitutional law to be her strongest areas. “Family law is not something I spent a great deal of time with. That has been a learning curve,” she said before winning election in November.
NAME: David R. Stras
CURRENT POSITION: Associate justice on the Minnesota Supreme Court. Appointed by Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty in 2010.
NOMINATED TO: 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis.
EDUCATION: University of Kansas School of Law, 1999. Bachelor’s degree and MBA from Kansas in 1995 and 1999, respectively.
BACKGROUND: Clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Served as a professor at the University of Minnesota Law School.
NOTATBLE: State of Minnesota v. Larry Allen Nelson, 2014. Stras wrote the majority opinion overturning the criminal conviction of a man who failed to pay child support under a state law that required him “to provide care and support” to his children. Nelson argued that the state failed to prove that he didn’t provide “care” to his children. The majority concluded that that the law as written required the state to prove that Nelson failed to provide “both care and support” to his children — that the word “and” was critical.
NAME: Scott L. Palk
CURRENT POSITION: Palk was hired as assistant dean of students at the University of Oklahoma College of Law in 2011, following a 19-year career as a state and federal prosecutor.
NOMINATED TO: Federal district court judge, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City. Palk was nominated to the same judicial vacancy in 2015 by President Barack Obama, who expressed confidence that Palk would “serve the American people with integrity and a steadfast commitment to justice.”
EDUCATION: J.D., University of Oklahoma, 1992; B.S. in business administration: finance and economics, Oklahoma State University, 1989.
NOTATBLE: Palk has never been a judge, but he served as an assistant district attorney in Oklahoma for about 10 years before becoming a federal prosecutor for the Western District of Oklahoma in 2002. He was the lead prosecutor in the case against Sean Gillespie, a member of a white supremacist group convicted and sentenced to 39 years in prison for firebombing a Jewish temple in Oklahoma City in 2004.
NAME: Amy Coney Barrett.
CURRENT POSITION: Law professor, University of Notre Dame.
NOMINATED TO: 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.
EDUCATION: University of Notre Dame Law School, J.D., summa cum laude, 1997; Rhodes College, B.A. in English Literature, magna cum laude, 1994.
NOTATBLE: The former law clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia researches the federal courts, constitutional law and statutory interpretation and teaches courses on those topics at Notre Dame.
NAME: Terry F. Moorer
CURRENT POSITION: U.S. magistrate judge since 2007.
NOMINATED TO: U.S. District Court, Middle District of Alabama.
EDUCATION: University of Alabama, juris doctor, 1986; Huntingdon College, bachelor of arts, 1983; Marion Military Institute, associate of arts, 1981.
NOTABLE: Assistant U.S. attorney in the Middle District of Alabama from 1990-2007; lead attorney for organized crime drug enforcement task force, 2001-2007; military attorney and judge for the Alabama National Guard.
NAME: Kevin Newsom
CURRENT POSITION: Attorney in private practice in Birmingham, Alabama.
NOMINATED TO: 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.
EDUCATION: Harvard University, juris doctor, 1997; Samford University, bachelor of arts, 1994.
NOTABLE: Alabama solicitor general; law clerk to Supreme Court Associate Justice David Souter; law clerk to 9th U.S. Circuit Judge Dairmuid O’Scannlain.
NAME: Dabney L. Friedrich
CURRENT POSITION: Friedrich served on the U.S. Sentencing Commission from 2006 to 2016. She was initially appointed to the commission by President George W. Bush and nominated by President Barack Obama to a second term in 2010.
NOMINATED TO: U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
EDUCATION: B.A. in economics from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, where she earned a full scholarship as a tennis player; diploma in Legal Studies from Oxford University; J.D. from Yale Law School.
NOTATBLE: Friedrich was a member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission in 2011 when it unanimously decided that prisoners locked up for offenses involving crack cocaine should be eligible for early release. Congress had passed a law substantially lowering recommended sentences for people convicted of crack cocaine crimes to fix a longstanding disparity in punishments between crack and powder cocaine crimes. The commission’s vote allowed offenders who were locked up for crack offenses before the new law took effect to also benefit. Before serving on the commission she served as associate counsel to President George W. Bush from 2003 to 2006 where one of her primary responsibilities was assisting in the nomination and confirmation of federal judges.
NAME: David C. Nye
CURRENT POSITION: Appointed Idaho 6th District judge by Republican Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter in 2007 and elected without opposition in 2014.
NOMINATED TO: U.S. District Court for Idaho. He was first nominated by President Barack Obama in 2016 but never confirmed.
EDUCATION: J. Reuben Clark Law School at BYU, juris doctor, 1986; Brigham Young University, B.A., 1982.
NOTABLE: Nye has worked as an attorney specializing in medical malpractice and insurance in Pocatello. He now oversees felony drug court and helps train new Idaho judges.
If confirmed, Nye will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge. Lodge announced his plans to retire in September 2014, but has kept working as a senior judge while the search for his successor was underway because Idaho is down to just one active federal U.S. district judge. Several other out-of-state federal judges have also been called in to help cover Idaho’s federal court caseload until a new judge is appointed.
NAME: Damien M. Schiff
CURRENT POSITION: Senior attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation, a nonprofit legal organization based in Sacramento, California.
NOMINATED TO: U.S. Court of Federal Claims.
EDUCATION: Georgetown University and the University of San Diego School of Law.
NOTABLE: Experience litigating cases concerning a variety of federal and state environmental and land-use issues, including Sackett v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a decision in which the Supreme Court upheld the right of landowners to challenge Clean Water Act compliance orders issued by the Environmental Protection Agency. Schiff also clerked for Judge Victor J. Wolski of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.
NAME: John K. Bush
CURRENT POSITION: Partner in the Louisville, Kentucky, law office of Bingham Greenebaum Doll. His practice has included antitrust, securities, financial institutions, insurance, intellectual property and product liability disputes. Also heads the local chapter of the Federalist Society.
NOMINATED TO: 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
EDUCATION: Vanderbilt University, bachelor’s degree. Harvard, law degree.
NOTABLE: Early in his career, was one of President Ronald Reagan’s attorneys during Iran-Contra investigation. Bush also was involved in litigation related to the tobacco industry’s Master Settlement Agreement, in which some cigarette makers agreed to pay states for smoking-related health care costs.
Contributors to this report include Associated Press writers Ed White in Detroit; Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Alabama; Kimberlee Kruesi in Boise, Idaho; Nick Riccardi in Denver; Steve Karnowski in Minneapolis; Sean Murphy in Oklahoma City; Jessica Gresko and Vivian Salama in Washington; and Bruce Schreiner in Louisville, Kentucky.
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