Tag: U.S. District Court

Senate Confirms Contingency-Fee Lawyer for Federal Bench

The Senate on Wednesday confirmed John “Jack” McConnell to the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island, voting along party lines, 50-44.

McConnell’s confirmation was made possible when 11 Republicans earlier joined the Democrats in a 63-33 vote to invoke cloture. Those votes should be seen as a statement on the confirmation process, that is, trying to dial back the partisan conflict that afflicts consideration of judicial nominees.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who voted for cloture but against confirmation, made the case this way:

[The] Senate is a body of precedent. One important precedent is that never in Senate history has a President’s district court nomination reported by the Judiciary Committee been defeated because of a filibuster, that is, because of a cloture vote. Once a nominee for federal district judge has gotten to the floor, the majority of senators have made the decision in an up-or-down vote.

Therefore, I will vote today for cloture in order to allow an up-or-down vote on the President’s nomination of John McConnell. Then, I will vote “no” on confirmation because I believe he is a flawed nominee.

Flawed is a gentle description. McConnell is probably the worst judicial nominee that President Obama has put forward.
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One Trial Lawyer Who Should Not Be a Federal Judge

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Monday moved for a cloture vote on the nomination of John “Jack” McConnell to be a judge on the U.S. District Court for Rhode Island. McConnell has no judicial experience, but he did make millions the state tobacco lawsuits, transforming hundreds of thousands of dollars into political contributions.

McConnell was drove state’s egregious public nuisance suit over lead paint against paint manufacturers, in which then-Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse farmed out the litigation to McConnell’s firm, Motley Rice, on a contingency basis. The Rhode Island Supreme Court unanimously rejected the suit in 2009.

A vote on cloture could happen as soon as Wednesday, but opposition from Senate Republicans and business is determined.

UPDATE (4:50 p.m.): Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) releases a blistering “Dear Colleague” letter opposing cloture on McConnell’s nomination. Excerpt (via the Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform): (continue reading…)

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