On March 12th, 2019, PFAW hosted Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) for a member telebriefing about the damage being done by Trump’s judges and the ongoing fight to preserve a fair and independent judiciary.
PFAW Vice President for Communications and Research Drew Courtney moderated the telebriefing, with PFAW Senior Fellow Elliot Minceberg, PFAW Senior Legislative Counsel Paul Gordon, and PFAW’s Executive Vice President Marge Baker joining the call as panelists for a discussion and Q+A.
Sen. Whitehouse emphasized that not enough people fully grasp the impact that judges have on their lives, saying that “it’s important for the American public to understand, and that hasn’t been done yet.” He emphasized the importance of PFAW’s work regarding judicial nominees and exposing their terrible records. He also recommended PFAW’s “Confirmed Judges, Confirmed Fears” report and blog series, which focuses on the harm already being done by Trump judges.
Whitehouse used recently-confirmed D.C. Circuit Court judge Neomi Rao as the perfect example of the problem. He noted, “She’s never been in a courtroom as a litigant, no lawyering experience, never been a judge, and she ran a Koch brothers and anonymous donor funded corporate institute at George Mason University.” Whitehouse expressed his concern over this nomination, like many others, because of the pattern of partisan decision-making that will almost certainly follow suit.
Courtney asked Senator Whitehouse, “What are the kinds of things we should be looking for in a judge or someone who is going to sit on the federal bench?” Senator Whitehouse replied, “You really have to look for someone who is going to be a good judge and follow the law, and where the law is uncertain look for someone who is honest and owes no allegiance to any particular interest.” Senator Whitehouse highlighted that we should be looking for a strengthened sense of what the American system means and how it should operate.
On a final note, Senator Whitehouse explained, “We should look for judges who have a sense of government that is consistent with the way in which the American government actually works.”