Trump nominee called Kennedy ‘judicial prostitute’

One of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees wrote nearly a decade ago that Justice Anthony Kennedy was akin to a “judicial prostitute” – a comment that one liberal advocacy group says should disqualify him for the courts.

Damien Schiff, who has been nominated for a seat on the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, is a lawyer with the conservative Pacific Legal Foundation who was also a prolific blogger. One piece on his personal blog, Omnia Omnibus, discussed the justice’s role as an powerful swing vote on the Supreme Court.

“What does this mean? Presumably we are to understand that Justice Kennedy is savvy and strategic, because he makes other Justices curry his favor,” Schiff wrote in the June 29, 2007 blog post. “But again, what does that mean? It would seem that Justice Kennedy is (and please excuse the language) a judicial prostitute, ‘selling’ his vote as it were to four other Justices in exchange for the high that comes from aggrandizement of power and influence, and the blandishments of the fawning media and legal academy.”

Schiff had been commentating on a piece from the website SCOTUSBlog discussing Kennedy’s influence on the nation’s most powerful court, including how infrequently he was in the minority during the term that ended in June 2007.

The lawyer disclosed his writings in a standard nominee questionnaire he returned to the Senate Judiciary Committee. His confirmation hearing before the committee has not yet been scheduled.

White House officials, as well as Schiff, did not immediately return a request for comment on Schiff’s writings. The comments about Kennedy from one of Trump’s nominees is particularly notable, considering the White House has been keeping close tabs on the justice should he be pondering retirement.

Meanwhile, one liberal group involved in judicial nominations argued that his commentary made him unfit for a seat on the claims court.

“There is no circumstance under which a person who displays such obvious contempt and lack of respect for a Supreme Court justice should be given a seat on a federal court,” said Nan Aron, president of the Alliance for Justice, which flagged Schiff’s writings. “Mr. Schiff clearly lacks the judicial temperament necessary to be a judge, and we have serious concerns that he would use his position to further his dangerous ideology.”

Schiff was among a batch of 10 judicial nominees that the Trump White House rolled out earlier this month for various federal court seats. In addition to his work for the Pacific Legal Foundation, Schiff has also clerked for the federal claims court, which handles monetary claims against the federal government.

Another nominee in that batch of 10 has penned not-so-flattering blog posts in the past. John Bush, who has been nominated to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, wrote under a pen name that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was a “sore loser” for not endorsing Trump during the campaign, according to BuzzFeed News. Cruz is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Unlike other federal judges, the Court of Federal Claims does not have lifetime appointments.

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