Right now, all eyes are on the nomination of Justice Priscilla R. Owen to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Amid all of the controversy over her nomination and the possible demise of the filibuster, it's easy to forget that there are other judgeships waiting to be filled.
The last time Article III Groupie engaged in speculation concerning federal judicial nominations, she wound up with egg on her face. But the prospect of winding up with stuff on her face has never deterred A3G from engaging in an otherwise enjoyable activity -- so here she goes again...
Earlier this year, the brilliant Michael Chertoff sprinted away from the Third Circuit and towards the Department of Homeland Security, trading in the title of "Judge Chertoff" for "Secretary Chertoff."* His departure has opened up a spot on the Third Circuit, and a few curious readers have asked Article Three Groupie if she has heard anything about who might be nominated to replace him.
As a matter of fact, she has. She recently received this email message from a reader:
President Bush is strongly considering the nomination of Judge Jerome B. Simandle, United States District Judge for the District of New Jersey (Camden Vicinage), to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Simandle, who began his career as a law clerk in Camden and later became a magistrate judge before elevation to the District Court, was previously nominated by Bush's father and sailed through confirmation in an election year.
Very interesting! Judge Simandle does sound like a promising candidate. Past service as a magistrate judge is not particularly sexy -- but in the current period of judicial nomination warfare, such a safe background may be just what the doctor ordered.
A3G will hedge her bets on Judge Simandle, however, by sharing with you this email from another reader, which identifies two possible competitors (both colleagues of Judge Simandle on the D.N.J. bench):
Rumor has it that Judge Jose L. Linares and Judge William J. Martini (pictured at right) are both under consideration for the Third Circuit seat vacated by Mike Chertoff. Both are very well-connected. Judge Linares is said to be friendly with Senator Mel Martinez, who served as President Bush's Secretary for Housing and Urban Development before joining the Senate, and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Judge Martini also knows many political folks, having served in Congress, as a member of the House of Representatives (1995-97).
Judge Linares, who was born in Cuba, is a prominent member of the Hispanic bar in New Jersey. He would bring the added benefit of improving President Bush's standing with the Latino community.
¡Muy interesante! A3G will keep you posted of further developments. If you have any juicy gossip concerning judicial nominations, please email her.
* There is no truth to the rumor that Chertoff's decision to leave the bench was motivated by the fact that "Secretary Chertoff" sounds better than "Judge Chertoff" when making restaurant reservations. If you dispute this point, just take a look at the commendably svelte Secretary Chertoff. Does he look like someone who enjoys food? Heck, he doesn't even eat it! [Tasteless reference to Terri Schiavo omitted.]
If Secretary Chertoff enjoyed food more, the rumor would be understandable. Only a handful of people can claim the exalted title of "Secretary," while thousands can call themselves "Judge" -- including icky state court jurists. Can you blame the maitre d' for giving a cabinet secretary a better table than a judge?
To A3G, federal judges are second to no one as celebrities. And the judges of the venerable D.C. Circuit -- may it rest in eternal splendor, as it begins its ridiculously long summer vacation -- are second to no one but the justices themselves. But even Judge Laurence H. Silberman (pictured at left), a longtime denizen of the Prettyman Courthouse, has his restaurant reservations made under "Ambassador Silberman." (Judge Silberman served as the U.S. ambassador to Yugoslavia from 1975 to 1977.)