In Dicta

Monday, July 18, 2005

Strong Ties Bind Players in Battle for Seat on Court

"Judge J. Michael Luttig of the federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., one of the handful of people seen as uppermost on President Bush's list to fill a Supreme Court vacancy, stood nine years ago as a groomsman at the wedding of another assumed to be on that same short list, Judge John G. Roberts of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, who once clerked for Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist.

One of Judge Luttig's own former clerks, Theodore Ullyot, is chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, another potential nominee, who served on the Texas Supreme Court with Senator John Cornyn, a Republican on the Judiciary Committee who will review any nominee, who just hired Brian T. Fitzpatrick, a former clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia, to advise him on the confirmation process. Mr. Fitzpatrick's old friend James C. Ho just left Mr. Cornyn's staff to clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas, whose confirmation Judge Luttig helped secure when he was a Justice Department aide.

Call it six degrees of confirmation. When it comes to filling the first Supreme Court vacancy in 11 years, the players are a mix of old friends, adversaries and acquaintances that perhaps only Washington, that capital company town, could spawn. The cast is linked, on one hand, by allegiances to conservative legal groups like the Federalist Society, and on the other by liberal opposition to it."

Continue reading at The New York Times.