A salute to Judge Silberman

The Antonin Scalia Law School’s Gray Center at George Mason University has honored Judge Laurence Silberman of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals with its first annual Justice Clarence Thomas First Principles Award. The Wall Street Journal notes the award to Judge Silberman in its editorial “A Judge for First Principles.”

The symmetry here is perfect. To adapt the phrase Lincoln used in his eulogy of Henry Clay, Justice Thomas and Judge Silberman represent our beau ideal of a judge.

We last wrote about Judge Silberman in “Judge Silberman’s dissent.” The Journal editors hit a few highlights in Judge Silberman’s stellar career, some of which have involved extrajudicial service. The Journal concisely notes another memorable Silberman dissent: “In 1988 (In re Sealed Case), he held that the independent counsel statute violated the Constitution’s Appointments Clause. The Supreme Court failed to agree in one of its worst decisions, Morrison v. Olson. But Judge Silberman’s view was echoed in Justice Scalia’s famous dissent in Morrison that has been vindicated by history.”

Judge Silberman is a man of honor, judgment, and discretion as well as of the first principles recognized in the Justice Clarence Thomas Award. I appreciate this note in the Journal editorial regarding one of the assignments Judge Silberman undertook before his appointment to the bench:

As deputy Attorney General in the 1970s, Judge Silberman was asked by Congress to testify on the late FBI director J. Edgar Hoover’s secret and confidential files and so was obliged to read them. In a 2005 op-ed in these pages, he called examining those files the “single worst experience of my long governmental service.” He vowed to take the secrets he read about politicians to his grave, and so they have never leaked to this day.

I can only second the salute to Judge Silberman. Josh Blackman briefly recaps the award ceremony in the post “A Night To Remember With Justice Thomas” including the video below. Congratulations to the Scalia Law School at GMU and the Gray Center at the law school, to Justice Thomas, to Judge Silberman, and to everyone else involved.

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