During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised that, under his presidency, America would win so much we might get tired of it. He added, however, that you can never get tired of winning.
So far, Trump’s presidency has not put that caveat to the test. But President Trump is winning big on judicial nominations. He’s nominating outstanding men and women, and most of them seem destined to be confirmed.
This week, Trump made four nominations to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The four are Don Willett, James Ho, Kyle Duncan, and Kurt Engelhardt.
Willett is a judge on the Texas Supreme Court. He made the list of judges considered by Trump for the Supreme Court slot eventually filled by Neil Gorsuch. Ho succeeded Ted Cruz as Solicitor General of Texas. Ilya Shapiro praises Willet and Ho here.
Kyle Duncan was Louisiana’s Solicitor General and, since leaving that post, has been called back to represent the state as special counsel. He has extensive experience as an appellate advocate. Duncan was the lead lawyer arguing for Hobby Lobby stores in the 2014 Supreme Court case that successfully challenged Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate. Carrie Severino endorses the Duncan nomination here.
I want to focus on Kurt Engelhardt, currently a district court judge — in fact, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. He’s the judge who wrote a scathing 129-page order denouncing the misconduct of lawyers at the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the local New Orleans U.S. Attorney’s Office in a prosecution of New Orleans police officers. As Christian Adams says, Judge Engelhardt’s order “offers a look behind the curtain of some of the worst ideological misconduct that occurred at the Obama DOJ.”
I wrote about that case, the judge’s order, and its affirmation by the Fifth Circuit here. You can read Judge Engelhardt’s blistering 129-page “Order and Reasons” here.
The misconduct of DOJ attorneys included: (1) using a fake name to post commentary on the website of the Times-Picayune that castigated the defendants and their lawyers and repeatedly chastised the New Orleans Police Department as a fish “rotten from the head down;” (2) lying to the court about the scope of DOJ’s online activity and its culprits; (3) intimidating defense witnesses from testifying; and (4) using plea bargains and charging practices that produced inexplicably gross sentencing disparities.
Judge Engelhardt did not exaggerate when he described the Obama Justice Department’s conduct as “bizarre,” “appalling,” and “grotesque.” The Fifth Circuit did not err in finding that the Justice Department lawyers stoked a “mob mentality” against police officers, and in affirming Judge Engelhardt’s decision to order a new trial.
Judge Engelhardt deserves great credit for blowing the whistle so loudly and decisively on the misconduct of the Obama Justice Department. If his decision in the New Orleans police case is a good indicator of his overall jurisprudence, then his nomination is another win for President Trump and for justice.
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