Posts Tagged ‘Christopher Schroeder’
Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

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.

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) told Main Justice Thursday he was trying to “send a little message” by voting to confirm Christopher Schroeder as the chief of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Policy.

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) (photo by Dan Raustadt / Creative Commons)

“Sometimes you’re trying to send a protest message with votes,” Kyl said. “But at the end of the day, I’m willing for him to be confirmed. I’m willing to work with him. Under those circumstances, sometimes you say, ‘OK, I’ll hope that maybe this gesture will make it a little easier for us to work together.’”

Kyl was one of 72 senators to vote in favor of Schroeder’s nomination on Wednesday. The Arizona Republican — who also serves as the minority whip, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate — initially voted against the nomination in the Judiciary Committee in February.

Kyl joined Republican Sens. John Cornyn of Texas and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma to vote against Schroeder in a 16-3 vote. Though Cornyn and Coburn stuck with their no-votes Wednesday, Kyl switched to a yes. The Senate confirmed the OLP chief, 72-24.

In February, Kyl had expressed concern that Schroeder’s job entails participating in the vetting of prospective judicial nominees. Schroeder had been a critic of President George W. Bush’s national security policies. Schroeder will play a leading role in readying the replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.

On Thursday, Kyl said he still thinks Schroeder said “some unfortunate things in the past” and is “very liberal.” But he said votes such as the one on the Schroeder confirmation aren’t “going to make a huge difference.”

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Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

It took the Senate roughly 10 months to confirm Christopher Schroeder to lead the Justice Department’s policy shop. Had it taken eight months, or even nine, he might have had time to warm up to the job after 13 years away from the agency.

No such luck.

The Office of Legal Policy will do much of the heavy lifting for President Barack Obama’s pick to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. And a recent controversy over the incomplete paperwork of one of Obama’s nominees to a federal appeals court has placed tremendous pressure on the office, which is responsible for compiling Senate questionnaires, and brought increased scrutiny by the White House.

The Senate confirmed Schroeder to the position by a 72-24 vote Wednesday. Obama is expected to nominate Stevens’ successor by May 26.

Schroeder, a Duke University law professor and former official in the department’s Office of Legal Counsel, comes to the job with a rich background in Supreme Court nominations: He was one of the top counsel to then-Senate Judiciary Chairman Joe Biden during the historic battle over Robert Bork’s nomination 23 years ago.

Schroeder and Jeffrey Peck, Biden’s general counsel at the time, conducted the review of Bork’s body of work that fed the majority’s successful assault on the nominee. ”It would be hard to find someone with more experience on the Supreme Court nomination process than Chris Schroeder,” said Peck, now of Peck, Madigan, Jones & Stewart.

The White House will handle the “high-level sherpa-ing” of the nominee, as one Justice Department lawyer put it, while OLP focuses on research and strategy.

Part of the office’s work will be reactive: When Republicans find pegs for criticism  - think Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s “wise Latina” comment — OLP will formulate a response in coordination with the White House. Schroeder also will oversee an effort to build a desired narrative around the nominee, drawn from his or her record, and fortify it against attack.

But much has changed since Bork’s confirmation hearings in 1987. One measure is the nomination of University of California, Berkeley, law professor Goodwin Liu for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

His many academic and popular writings, as well as his work for liberal legal groups such as the American Constitution Society, make him an ideal target for the Right. But Republicans were able to hold Liu up and question his fitness for the bench on other grounds: Omissions in his Senate questionnaire.

OLP is wary of making the same mistake on a grander stage, but the limitations of any given nominee’s memory and time constraints are daunting. And building a comprehensive list of writings, speeches and appearances, among other things, has become more difficult over time rather than less. (The Internet can expose as many gaps as it fills.)

Given the Liu situation, said the Justice Department lawyer, “the White House is going to place a close eye on OLP.”

But freighted as it is, the job of heading OLP right now suits Schroeder, Peck said.

“This is the right person in the right place at the right time,” he said.

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Justice Department Office of Legal Policy nominee Christopher Schroeder by a 72-24 vote.

Christopher Schroeder (Duke University)

Schroeder, a Duke University law professor and former Office of Legal Counsel acting Assistant Attorney General, waited months for a vote in the full Senate.

The Senate Judiciary Committee initially endorsed Schroeder for the post last summer by voice vote, but his nomination spent several months stalled on the Senate floor before being returned to the White House in December. President Barack Obama re-nominated him in January and the panel approved him again in February on a 16-3 vote.

Republican Sens. Jon Kyl of Arizona, John Cornyn of Texas and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma voted against Schroeder in committee. Kyl expressed concern in February that Schroeder, who has been a critic of President George W. Bush’s national security policies, will vet judicial candidates. Schroeder will play a leading role in readying the replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) lashed out at Republicans for delaying a vote on Schroeder and making it more difficult for the Obama administration to review judicial nominees. There are more than 100 vacant seats on the federal courts.

“What has this place come to … when we have filibusters on routine nominations like this?” Leahy said on the Senate floor.”We’ve never had anything like this before.”

Republicans have maintained that they are handling nominations responsibly. They have said their Democratic colleagues have the ultimate authority to hold votes because they control the Senate schedule. No Republican senators spoke on the floor during Wednesday’s debate on Schroeder’s nomination.

Sen. Ted Kaufman (D-Del.), a longtime friend of Schroeder, said Obama “has chosen wisely” in selecting the law professor to lead the DOJ office.

“Chris Schroeder has the experience, the intellect and the judgment to be a superb leader of the Office of Legal Policy,” Kaufman said on the Senate floor.

Tax Division nominee Mary L. Smith is the only other Assistant Attorney General candidate who is still pending in the Senate.

UPDATE:

In a statement, Attorney General Eric Holder welcomed Schroeder to the DOJ.

“I am pleased to welcome Chris back to the Department of Justice,” Holder said. “The Office of Legal Policy serves a crucial role at the department in coordinating some of our most important projects and initiatives.  Chris is an experienced and talented attorney, and I look forward to working with him on behalf of the American people”

The Senate roll call vote is below. Although Kyl opposed Schroeder in committee, he voted in favor of the nominee’s confirmation. Cornyn and Coburn, the other senators who opposed Schroeder in committee, voted against the nominee’s confirmation.

YEAs —72
Akaka (D-HI)
Baucus (D-MT)
Bayh (D-IN)
Begich (D-AK)
Bennet (D-CO)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Brown (R-MA)
Burris (D-IL)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Cardin (D-MD)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Collins (R-ME)
Conrad (D-ND)
Corker (R-TN)
Dodd (D-CT)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feingold (D-WI)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Franken (D-MN)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Hagan (D-NC)
Harkin (D-IA)
Hatch (R-UT)
Inouye (D-HI)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kaufman (D-DE)
Kerry (D-MA)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Kohl (D-WI)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
LeMieux (R-FL)
Leahy (D-VT)
Levin (D-MI)
Lieberman (ID-CT)
Lincoln (D-AR)
Lugar (R-IN)
McCaskill (D-MO)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Merkley (D-OR)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Murray (D-WA)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Pryor (D-AR)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schumer (D-NY)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shaheen (D-NH)
Shelby (R-AL)
Snowe (R-ME)
Specter (D-PA)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Tester (D-MT)
Udall (D-CO)
Udall (D-NM)
Voinovich (R-OH)
Warner (D-VA)
Webb (D-VA)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wyden (D-OR)
NAYs —24
Barrasso (R-WY)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Wicker (R-MS)
Not Voting - 4
Alexander (R-TN)
Bennett (R-UT)
Byrd (D-WV)
Johanns (R-NE)
Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

The Senate will vote on the confirmation of Justice Department Office of Legal Policy nominee Christopher Schroeder Wednesday.

The chamber will debate the nomination for three hours and likely vote in the afternoon.

Christopher Schroeder (Duke University)

The Senate Judiciary Committee initially endorsed Schroeder, a Duke University law professor, for the post last summer by voice vote, but his nomination spent several months stalled on the Senate floor before being returned to the White House in December. President Barack Obama re-nominated him in January and the panel approved him again in February on a 16-3 vote.

Republican Sens. Jon Kyl of Arizona, John Cornyn of Texas and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma voted against Schroeder in committee. Kyl expressed concern in February that Schroeder, who has been a critic of President George W. Bush’s national security policies, will vet judicial candidates.

Tax Division nominee Mary L. Smith is the only other Assistant Attorney General candidate who is still pending in the Senate.

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Friday, April 16th, 2010

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) filed cloture on the nomination of Justice Department Office of Legal Policy nominee Christopher Schroeder Thursday night.

Christopher Schroeder (Duke University)

The procedure, which would cut off debate on the Schroeder nomination, means the Senate could vote to confirm the OLP nominee as soon as next week. Schroeder, a Duke University law professor, has waited months for a vote by the full Senate.

The Senate Judiciary Committee first approved Schroeder for the post last summer, but then his nomination spent several months stalled on the Senate floor before being returned to the White House in December. President Barack Obama re-nominated him in January and the Judiciary panel endorsed him again in February on a 16-3 vote.

Republican Sens. Jon Kyl (Ariz.), John Cornyn (Texas), and Tom Coburn (Okla.) voted against Schroeder in committee. Kyl expressed concern in February that Schroeder, who has been a critic of President George W. Bush’s national security policies, will vet judicial candidates.

Tax Division nominee Mary L. Smith is the only other Assistant Attorney General candidate who is still pending in the Senate.

She was first nominated in April 2009. Smith did not receive a single Republican vote when she was reported out of committee in June. GOP lawmakers said Smith, a Chicago lawyer who served in the Clinton White House counsel’s office, lacked tax law experience. After her nomination was returned to the White House before Congress adjourned last December, Obama re-nominated her in January and the committee approved her in February — again without any Republican support.

One other Assistant Attorney General post lacks a Senate-confirmed head or nominee — the Office of Legal Counsel.

The nomination of Dawn Johnsen to be Assistant Attorney General for the OLC was withdrawn last week after more than a year of criticism from Republicans because of her pro-abortion rights stance and her opposition to Bush administration national security policies. Like Schroeder and Smith, she spent several months waiting for a vote in the Senate last year before Obama re-nominated her in January. Obama has not yet nominated anyone else for the job.

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

President Barack Obama will give recess appointments to 15 nominees who have been awaiting a confirmation vote in the Senate, the White House announced Saturday. But no Justice Department nominees are among them.

Emboldened perhaps by his victory on health care reform, Obama is making use of his recess appointment power for the first time in the face of what a White House blog post called an “obstruction-at-all-costs mentality” of Senate Republicans.

A total of 217 nominees have been pending before the Senate for an average of 101 days, the White House said. The 15 nominees Obama intends to appoint during the congressional recess have been pending for an average of 214 days, the White House said.

Among the recess appointments will be Jeffrey Goldstein, nominee for Under Secretary for Domestic Finance at the Treasury Department.

But Dawn Johnsen isn’t on the list. The Indiana University law professor’s nomination to head the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel has been awaiting a vote in the Senate for more than a year. Republicans have objected to Johnsen’s prior work for an abortion rights group and her opposition to Bush-era national security legal policies.

President Barack Obama will give recess appointments to 15 of his nominees, but none for the Justice Department (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza).

In addition, Tax Division nominee Mary Smith and Office of Legal Policy nominee Chris Schroeder were not given recess appointments. Smith took a position in the Civil Division as she awaits confirmation. Schroeder’s nomination first went to the Senate in June 2009.

“The United States Senate has the responsibility to approve or disapprove of my nominees.  But if, in the interest of scoring political points, Republicans in the Senate refuse to exercise that responsibility, I must act in the interest of the American people and exercise my authority to fill these positions on an interim basis,” Obama said in a statement.

“Most of the men and women whose appointments I am announcing today were approved by Senate committees months ago, yet still await a vote of the Senate. I simply cannot allow partisan politics to stand in the way of the basic functioning of government,” Obama said.

A recess appointment lasts until the end of the next congressional session. Recess appointments are done infrequently, because they usurp the Senate’s constitutional role, angering many senators. During his tenure President George W. Bush made a number of recess appointments, spawning objections from Democrats.

Obama threatened in February to make recess appointments but relented after Senate Republicans lifted holds on some nominees, allowing 27 new administration officials to be confirmed.

Other nominees who are slated to receive recess appointments include David Lopez, Obama’s nominee for general counsel of the Equal Opportunity Commission, who previously worked in the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department; and Eric L. Hirschhorn, a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Winston & Strawn LLP, who will be appointed to head the Bureau of Industry and Security at the Department of Commerce.

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

A Catholic University law professor wrote today in a Huffington Post column that President Obama’s nominee to lead the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Policy is the victim of a Republican “obstructionist strategy” to stall the confirmation of federal judges.

Christopher Schroeder (Duke University)

Professor Victor Williams noted that OLP nominee Christopher Schroeder, who would vet candidates for federal judgeships, is unable to review applicants for more than 100 open seats in the U.S. District and Appeals courts. Obama has made 48 U.S. District and Appeals court nominations — 17 of whom have won confirmation thus far.

Schroeder, a Duke University law professor, was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee last summer, then spent several months waiting for a vote on the Senate floor last year before he was returned to the White House in December. He was re-nominated in January and was reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee Feb. 4 on a 16-3 vote.

GOP Sens. Jon Kyl (Ariz.), John Cornyn (Texas), and Tom Coburn (Okla.) voted against Schroeder in committee. Kyl said in February that he was concerned that Schroeder, who has been a critic of President George W. Bush’s national security policies, would be vetting judicial candidates.

“The obstructionist strategy is too obvious,” Williams wrote. “Keep Obama’s judge-vetting operation muddled for the first year and impede the timely appointment of Obama judges for the rest of the first term.”

Republicans maintain they are not blocking nominations, saying that the Senate Democratic leadership could bring nominees up for votes at any time.

But Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said last week that Republican senators are rebuffing time agreements, which would limit debate on a nomination. If there isn’t a time agreement, the Senate must vote to invoke cloture, a procedure to end debate but which requires 60 votes, in order to move to a nomination or legislation. The cloture process is time-consuming and could take several days.

Williams said the Senate should move on Schroeder’s nomination before the Senate’s recess later this month or Obama should use a recess appointment for Schroeder.

“The Republican strategy to block Obama judges by extreme slow walking the judge-vetter is now exposed,” Williams wrote. “Republicans should … allow an up-or-down vote before the Senate’s Easter/Passover recess. Otherwise, as I have argued, President Obama should make the OLP position one of scores of vacancies that he fills with the stroke of a pen.”

The Catholic University law professor has also called on the Senate to confirm Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel nominee Dawn Johnsen, who has also been stalled in the Senate.

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Friday, February 12th, 2010

President Obama signaled last night that he does not intend to make recess appointments next week for three top Justice Department nominees who have languished in the Senate since last year.

Dawn Johnsen (Indiana University)

In a statement following the confirmation of 27 nominees last night, the president indicated that he didn’t plan to make recess appointments while Congress is gone for the President’s Day recess next week for Dawn Johnsen for the Office of Legal Counsel, Mary L. Smith for the Tax Division and Christopher Schroeder for the Office of Legal Policy. But he didn’t rule out bypassing Senate confirmation in the future for some nominees.

Mary L. Smith (Schoeman, Updike & Kaufman)

“While this is a good first step, there are still dozens of nominees on hold who deserve a similar vote, and I will be looking for action from the Senate when it returns from recess,” Obama said. “If they do not act, I reserve the right to use my recess appointment authority in the future.”

A recess appointment lasts until the end of the next congressional session. Recess appointments are done infrequently, because they usurp the Senate’s constitutional role, angering many senators. During his tenure President George W. Bush made a number of recess appointments, spawning objections from Democrats.

Christopher Schroeder (Duke University)

Obama said he was “gratified” that Senate Republicans lifted their holds on nominees that allowed the Senate to confirm three U.S. Attorneys, a DOJ director and 23 other nominees last night before it left Washington for a week-long “state work period.”

The Johnsen, Smith and Schroeder nominations were stalled in the Senate last year for months before they were returned to the White House in December. President Obama renominated them in January.

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

President Barack Obama told reporters today that he is considering making recess appointments for nominees who are being held up by Republicans in the Senate.

“I respect the Senate’s role to advise and consent, but for months, qualified, non- controversial nominees for critical positions in government, often positions related to our national security, have been held up despite having overwhelming support,” Obama said in an unexpected appearance before the White House press corps.

Dawn Johnsen (Indiana University)

He didn’t say which nominees he may put in office without Senate confirmation during Congress’s recess next week for the Presidents Day holiday. Among the nominations that have stalled are Dawn Johnsen to head the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, Mary L. Smith for the Tax Division and Christopher Schroeder for the Office of Legal Policy. Their nominations languished in the Senate for months last year before they were returned to the White House in December and re-nominated last month.

“If the Senate does not act …, I will consider making several recess appointments during the upcoming recess because we can’t afford to let politics stand in the way of a well functioning government,” Obama said.

Obama made his remarks after meeting with Republican and Democratic congressional leaders Tuesday. He said he urged Senate Republicans to remove their holds on “nominees for critical jobs.”

“Surely we can set aside partisanship and do what’s traditionally been done with these nominations,” the president said.

A recess appointment lasts until the end of a current congressional session. Without Senate confirmation, the appointees must vacate their positions when a session ends. Recess appointments are controversial. President George W. Bush made a handful of recess appointments over the objections of Democrats, including John Bolton in 2005 to be the U.S. representative to the United Nations.

A senator’s hold doesn’t make it impossible for the Senate to consider nominees. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) could file a cloture petition to move a nomination. Cutting off debate on a nomination, however, is a time-consuming process for the Senate and would be difficult for the Democratic majority with the addition of Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) to the Senate. Brown became the 41st member of the Republican Senate conference last week, ending the Democrats’ filibuster-proof majority.

Reid said on the Senate floor last week that the president might have to start considering recess appointments.