This continues the thumbnails on the potential nominee to succeed Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court of the United States. Part 1 had Judge Amy Coney Barrett, GA Justice Keith Blackwell, FL Chief Justice Charles Canady, Judge Steven Colloton, and Judge Allison Eid. As with Part 1, I’m particularly interested in how these potential nominees will impact gun rights and the Second Amendment.
Three of the judges – Hardiman, Kavanaugh, and Kethledge – are considered to be short listed. Hardiman who was widely considered the runner-up to Justice Neil Gorsuch and Kethledge were both on the first short list and virtually all mentions of a current short list include Kavanaugh.
40 y.o., married to Justin Grant who worked for the CIA, and has two sons and a daughter. Baptist.
Current Position: Associate Justice, Georgia Supreme Court. Appointed in 2017 by Gov. Nathan Deal. Currently also a Trump nominee for the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals
Wake Forest University, BA Summa Cum Laude, 2000
Stanford University Law School, JD, 2007
Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, 2007-2008
Office of Rep. Nathan Deal, 2000-2001
Exec. Asst. to Director, Domestic Policy Council, The White House, 2001-2002
Spec. Asst to Director, USA Freedom Corps, The White House, 2002-2003
Dep. Assoc. Director, Office of Cabinet Affairs, The White House, 2003-2004
Associate – Commercial Litigation, Kirkland and Ellis LLP, Washington, DC, 2008-2012
Counsel for Legal Policy, Georgia Attorney General’s Office, 2012-2014
Solicitor General of Georgia, 2015-2016
You can find what she considers her most important decisions in the questionnaire that she submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee when she was nominated for a seat on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. More importantly, for our purposes, as Solictor General she joined the amicus brief submitted by 24 states in Friedman v. City of Highland Park asking the US Supreme Court to take the case. This case involved Highland Park’s assault weapons ban. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court did not grant certiorari. She also successfully litigated a water rights case, Florida v. Georgia, that was heard by the Supreme Court under its original jurisdiction which is very, very rare.
The Alliance for Justice asserts that Grant is an “elitist” and is unfit for any Federal judgeship due to being too young and inexperienced. One of the things they objected to was her challenge to ObamaCare. I’m sure they also object to her activities on behalf of The Federalist Society where she has been active since her time in law school.
Raymond W. Gruender
55 y.o. (this week), married to Judy Gruender, no children. Was the victim of an attempted murder-suicide when his father gathered Gruender and his siblings for a group photo. The father than shot Gruender and his teenage sister before killing himself. Catholic.
Judge, 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. Appointed by Pres. George W. Bush and confirmed May 20, 2004
Washington University in St. Louis, B.A., 1984
Washington University School of Law, J.D., 1987
Washington University in St. Louis, M.B.A., 1987
Associate, Lewis, Rice and Fingersh, St. Louis, MO, 1987-1990
Assistant U.S. attorney, Eastern District of Missouri, 1990-1994
Partner, Thompson Coburn, St. Louis, MO, 1994-2000
Assistant U.S. attorney, Eastern District of Missouri,2000-2001
U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri, 2001-2004
Given that Judge Gruender has served on the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals for a number of years, he has participated in a number of decisions involving abortion, contraception, voting rights, criminal rights, etc. The SCOTUSBlog covers the major ones here. With regard to the Second Amendment, there were no notable cases. While he served as US Attorney, he did aggressively prosecute gun violations, presumably felons in possession, in Missouri according to former Sen. Kit Bond in Gruender’s confirmation hearing.
It would seem in reading the opposition comments on Gruender that the most significant opposition to him will come from the pro-abortion lobby. In an early decision (2006), he dissented in a case from South Dakota that the 8th Circuit overturned a law requiring the doctor to inform the woman the terminating the pregnancy will end the life of a unique human being. He also wrote the decision that overturned the Missouri law that precluded their DMV from issuing license plates that read “Choose Life” on First Amendment grounds.
Thomas M. Hardiman
53 y.o. (next week), married to Lori Zappala Hardiman, and has three children. First in his family to attend college and worked as a taxi driver throughout high school and college. His brother-in-law, Stephen Zappala Jr. is the District Attorney of Allegheny County (Pittsburgh), PA. Catholic.
Judge, 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. Nominated by Pres. George W. Bush. Confirmed March 15, 2007.
University of Notre Dame, B.A., 1987
Georgetown University Law Center, J.D., Editor, Law Review, 1990
Associate, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom, Washington, DC, 1990-92
Associate and Partner, Titus and McConomy, Pittsburgh, PA, 1992-1999
Partner, Reed Smith, Pittsburgh, PA, 1999-2003
Judge, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, 2003-2007
Hardiman has the strongest record on the Second Amendment of all the potential nominees. He had a strong dissent in Drake v. Filko which challenged New Jersey’s may-issue carry laws. He said, in essence, “opining that the majority misreads Heller and McDonald, the Second Amendment applies outside the home, and New Jersey’s law conditioning issuance of a permit to carry a handgun in public on a showing of justifiable need contravenes the Second Amendment.” Hardiman also concurred in the Binderup case regarding the denial of the Second Amendment rights to those convicted of non-violent misdemeanors.
He wrote in his concurrence:
By contrast, we would
hold—consistent with Heller—that non-dangerous persons
convicted of offenses unassociated with violence may rebut
the presumed constitutionality of § 922(g)(1) on an as-applied
basis, and that when a law eviscerates the core of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms (as § 922(g)(1) does
by criminalizing exercise of the right entirely), it is
The Alliance for Justice noted that Hardiman takes an expansive view of the Second Amendment, that he ruled in favor of the Little Sisters of the Poor in a case involving ObamaCare, and that he was a longtime member of the Federalist Society. While bad in their eyes, sounds good to me. That said, there are some on the right (RedState’s Erick Erickson) who think Hardiman will be Souter 2.0 even though he has been reliably conservative.
Brett M. Kavanaugh
53 y.o., married to Ashley Estes Kavanaugh (who was Personal Secretary to Pres. George W. Bush), and has two daughters. Catholic.
Judge, US Circuit of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Nominated by Pres. George W. Bush. Confirmed May 26, 2006
Yale College, B.A., 1987
Yale Law School, J.D., 1990
Judge Walter K. Stapleton, US Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, 1990-1991
Judge Alex Kosinski, US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, 1991-1992
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Supreme Court of the United States, 1993-1994
Attorney, Office of the Solicitor General, U.S. Department of Justice, 1992-1993
Associate independent counsel, Whitewater investigation, 1994-1997, 1998
Partner, Kirkland and Ellis, Washington, DC, 1997-1998 and 1999-2001
Associate Counsel to the President, The White House, 2001-2003
Senior Assoc. Counsel to the President, The White House, 2003
Assistant to the President and Staff Secretary, The White House, 2003-2006
Defense Presence and Participation: A Procedural Minimum for Batson v. Kentucky Hearings, 99 Yale L.J. 187 (1989-1990)
The President and the Independent Counsel, 86 Geo. L.J. 2133 (1997-1998)
Separation of Powers During the Forty-Fourth Presidency and Beyond, 93 Minn. L. Rev. 1454 (2009)
A Dialogue with Federal Judges on the Role of History in Interpretation, 80 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 1889 (2011-2012)
Our Anchor for 225 Years and Counting: The Enduring Significance of the Precise Text of the Constitution, 89 Notre Dame L. Rev. 1907 (2014)
The Courts and the Administrative State, 64 Case W. Res. L. Rev. 711 (2014)
Fixing Statutory Interpretation, 129 Harv. L. Rev. 2118 (2015)
The Judge as Umpire: Ten Principles, 65 Cath. U. L. Rev. 683 (2015)
Co-Author, Law of Judicial Precedent, 2016
Two Challenges for the Judge as Umpire: Statutory Ambiguity and Constitutional Exceptions,
92 Notre Dame L. Rev. 1907 (2017)
It is estimated that Kavanaugh has written well over 275 opinion in his years on the Court of Appeals. He filed a dissent in Heller II which challenged gun registration and the AWB in DC. Because of the nature of the DC Circuit, Kavanaugh has written many opinions that deal with agencies and regulation. The SCOTUSBlog says he tends to take a case-by-case approach to administrative law without resorting to a full frontal challenge on Chevron deference. Nonetheless, he has worked to keep the administrative state in check especially with some of the rules promulgated by the Obama-era EPA. The SCOTUSBlog says, “To Kavanaugh, if Congress has not spoken on a matter of deep economic and political significance, which it had not in this instance, a regulation challenged under the relevant statute is presumed to be invalid.”
The Alliance for Justice in a bit of hyperbole says that a Kavanaugh nomination would “threaten the rights of consumers, workers, and immigrants, as well as women’s reproductive rights and protections for clean air and clean water.” Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the DC Circuit was held up for three years due to his being the principal author of the Starr Report which eventually led to Pres. Bill Clinton’s impeachment (but not conviction). I’m sure the Clinton true believers will continue to hold this against him.
Raymond M. Kethledge
52 y.o., married to Jessica Kethledge, and has both a son and daughter. Outdoorsman who hunts and fishes in Michigan’s North Woods. Grandfather, Raymond W. Ketchledge, helped developed the acoustic anti-submarine torpedo during WWII.
Judge, 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. Nominated by Pres. George W. Bush. Confirmed on June 24, 2008.
University of Michigan, B.A., 1989
University of Michigan Law School, J.D., 1993
Judge Ralph B. Guy, Jr., U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, 1993-1994
Justice Anthony Kennedy, Supreme Court of the United States, 1997-1998
Judiciary counsel, U.S. Sen. Spencer Abraham, Michigan, 1995-1997
Partner, Honigman, Miller, Schwartz & Cohn, Detroit, MI, 1998-2001
Counsel, Ford Motor Company, 2001-2002
Partner, Feeney, Kellet, Wienner & Bush, Bloomfield, MI, 2002
Co-Founder and Partner, Bush, Seyferth & Paige, Troy, MI, 2003-2008
U.S. Supreme Court Review: October 1998 Term, 78 Mich. B.J. 1314 (1999)
Co-Author, Lead Yourself First: Inspiring Leadership Through Solitude (2017)
Ambiguities and Agency Cases: Reflections after (Almost) Ten Years on the Bench,
70 Vand. L. Rev. En Banc 315 (2017)
With regard to the Second Amendment, the major case Kethledge participated in was an en banc hearing of Tyler v. Hillsdale County Sheriffs Department which found that person who had been committed years earlier had the right to have their gun rights restored. Kethledge joined in a concurring opinion supporting the decision. Other notable decisions by Kethledge include EEOC v. Kaplan in which he wrote the unanimous decision affirming the lower court’s decision throwing out an expert’s testimony in a disparate impact case. The Wall Street Journal called it the Opinion of the Year. Another notable decision, US v. NorCal Tea Party Patriots, in which he wrote, “Among the most serious allegations a federal court can address are that an Executive agency has targeted citizens for mistreatment based on their political views. No citizen—Republican or Democrat, socialist or libertarian—should be targeted or even have to fear being targeted on those grounds.” He concluded by noting the IRS’s attorney were engaged in a selective manner and he expected them to do better.
The Alliance for Justice certainly doesn’t like Raymond Kethledge. They accuse him of wanting to “threaten the rights of consumers, workers, and immigrants, as well as women’s reproductive rights and the rights of the accused. He fights for the wealthy and powerful over the rights of all, attacking critical federal agencies that protect workers, consumers and the environment.” I presume they are angry because Kethledge jacked up the IRS over their treatment of a Tea Party group.