The White House has taken charge of the confirmation process for Solicitor General Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court, National Public Radio reported Tuesday.
During the Bush and Clinton administrations, the nerve center for the confirmation process was run out of the Justice Department.
Former Assistant Attorney General for Legal Policy Rachel Brand, now of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, ran preparations for the confirmation of Justice Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts. She told NPR that mock confirmation hearings were held in a conference room on the fourth floor.
“It’s a ceremonial conference room, with formal historical portraits of attorneys general on the walls” around a large table, Brand said. “And we would have the nominee sit on one side of the table and have four or five lawyers sit across from him playing senators.”
Professor Martha Kumar of Towson University said that when there are so many deputy positions that have yet to be filled, “you have no choice but to run the operation out of the White House.”
After lingering in the Senate for 10 months, Assistant Attorney General for Legal Policy Christopher H. Schroeder was confirmed just last month.
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The New Jersey U.S. Attorney was sworn in today before 400 people including Attorney General Eric Holder and state dignitaries, the NBC New York Web site reported.
Some of the notable New Jerseyans, who were in attendance according to the news Web site, include:
-Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, who administered the oath.
-Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.)
-Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.)
-Gov. Jon Corzine.
-Gov.-elect Chris Christie, who was the George W. Bush U.S. Attorney for New Jersey.
-Former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who served as New Jersey U.S. Attorney under President George H.W. Bush.
-New Jersey FBI Director Weysan Dun.
Holder said Fishman will be one of his top advisers, according to NBC New York. In October, the Attorney General tapped Fishman to be on the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee of U.S. Attorneys, a body that serves as the voice of the U.S. Attorneys at Justice Department headquarters in Washington.
“I will rely on a man I trust,” Holder said at the ceremony, according to the news Web site.
Fishman officially took the helm of the U.S. Attorney’s office in October, shortly after he won Senate confirmation. He replaced acting U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra, who is under investigation by the DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility.
OPR is probing Marra over remarks he made this summer that could have aided Christie’s campaign for governor. The comments were about a July sting, which netted more than 40 defendants. Corzine and Christie both used investigation to show their anti-corruption credentials during the heated race for governor.
Fishman said he would make sure his office is fair and ethical. He added that his office would also fight gang crime and terrorism, according to the NBC news Web site.
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Former Reagan-era Justice Department official Douglas Kmiec was sworn in yesterday as ambassador to Malta at a ceremony that included “strange religious/political bedfellows,” the U.S. News & World Report’s God & Country blog reported.
The event for Kmiec, a conservative Roman Catholic who headed the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel in the 1980s, attracted several prominent Catholic friends, including liberal activist actor Martin Sheen, Catholic University president Rev. David M. O’Connell and Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, a member of the court’s conservative wing.
“It felt like an official diocesan event with a twist,” God & Country reporter Dan Gilgoff wrote.
Sheen, who played a Democratic president in The West Wing, recited the Pledge of Allegiance. He and Kmiec attended the same California church.
O’Connell offered a prayer for his former colleague, who was once dean of the Catholic University law school and was most recently a law professor at Pepperdine University.
Alito administered the oath to Kmiec, with whom he’d worked during the Reagan administration.
His switch and backing of beleaguered Office of Legal Counsel nominee Dawn Johnsen, who supports abortion rights, did not go over well with some pro-life Roman Catholics. Last year, he was denied Communion.
But O’Connell indicated at the ceremony that Kmiec’s Catholic credentials are still intact.
“We still think of you as one of us,” O’Connell told Kmiec, Gilgoff reported.
U.S. News put Kmiec on its recent list of the top 10 most important faith leaders in the Obama administration.