Bill Otis nominated to U.S. Sentencing Commission

Yesterday, President Trump nominated my friend Bill Otis to the United States Sentencing Commission. The White House announcement is here. Faithful Power Line readers will recognize the name. Bill has been an occasional contributor to this site.

Bill is part of a bipartisan slate of nominees for the Commission. It includes Bill Pryor of the Fifth Circuit, whom I consider one of the best federal appellate judges in the country.

It also includes Luis Felipe Restrepo of the Third Circuit, a strong, committed liberal and one-time public defender who was selected for the federal bench by President Obama. The other nominee is Henry Hudson, who serves on the U.S. District Court in Virginia, having been selected by President George W. Bush.

Bill Otis was a career prosecutor for the Department of Justice. He distinguished himself as Chief of the Appellate Division of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia under both Democrat and Republican administrations. In addition, Bill served as Special Counsel to President George H.W. Bush and as Counselor to the Administrator of Drug Enforcement Administration during the George W. Bush presidency. Currently, he’s an Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center.

I’ve known Bill for almost 50 years, going back to our first year at Stanford Law School. He’s a brilliant advocate, and as knowledgeable as they come in the area of criminal law and sentencing. His integrity and strength of character are exceptional. And he’s a staunch conservative.

Given his conservatism and the power of his advocacy, it’s not surprising that Bill’s nomination is already under attack by the left. Indeed, the hit pieces began appearing virtually as soon as his nomination was announced.

Here’s an example, brought to us by the left-liberals at NPR. The headline is “Trump Pick For Sentencing Commission Has History Of Racially Charged Remarks.”

The primary example NPR cites as a “racially charged remark” by Bill is this statement:

It is precisely because race and criminality have no causative relationship that our side cannot be cowed when the other side starts bellowing about racial disparities in imprisonment, and then claiming they are caused by racism.

(Emphasis added)
Bill went on to explain that the disparities are the result of social factors.

Bill, then, was saying that race does not cause crime or disparities in committing crime. This is the opposite of what a racist would say.

NPR realizes this. That’s why it frames its attack on Bill in terms of “racially charged remarks,” not racially biased ones. NPR is resorting to weasel words in an attempt to make Bill look like a racist without directly calling him that.

This approach has become a staple of the modern left. Its targets extend far beyond Bill Otis.

Republicans must not be cowed (to use Bill’s word). The Republican Senate should confirm Bill, along with the rest of the bipartisan slate presented by President Trump.


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