Wednesday, April 04, 2012


Well, the entire blogosphere is talking about 5th Circuit judge Jerry E. Smith, who ordered the Justice Department to tell the court whether the Obama administration believes that Supreme Court has the right of judicial review (which the administration obviously does, as Judge Smith knows full well). I just want to note that according to a September 2000 Baltimore Sun article, Judge Smith was seen as a possible Supreme Court pick for then-candidate George W. Bush:

Outside the 4th Circuit Court, another potential Bush nominee is a friend, Jerry E. Smith, 53, a former Houston lawyer and now a conservative judge on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

I'm not sure how that would have been worse than what we actually got, of course. I'm just pointing it out.

Yes, Judge Smith is a member of the Federalist Society -- or at least he has five items listed on the Society's Publications page. And, in a 1998 Washington Post article, he's listed as one of the judges who benefited from this largesse:

Federal judges are attending expenses-paid, five-day seminars on property rights and the environment at resorts in Montana, sessions underwritten by conservative foundations that are also funding a wave of litigation on those issues in the federal courts.

Funding for the seminars, run by a group called the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment (FREE), also comes from foundations run by companies with a significant interest in property rights and environmental law issues, Internal Revenue Service records show....

One of the biggest contributors to FREE is the Carthage Foundation, headed by conservative publisher Richard Mellon Scaife....

Two foundations controlled by Charles and David Koch, conservative brothers who also run Koch Industries, an oil and gas company, have also contributed to FREE, including providing funding earmarked for the seminars....

A 2006 Post article adds:

Two organizations that have provided free trips to hundreds of federal judges received large contributions from tobacco, oil and other corporate interests, according to documents released yesterday.

The Montana-based Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment (FREE) and George Mason University's Law & Economics Center previously said corporate money does not pay for the judges' seminars or declined to disclose their donors.

But documents released by the Community Rights Counsel, a nonprofit Washington law firm, show that corporations including Exxon Mobil, Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco have contributed tens of thousands of dollars toward these programs....

Greenpeace notes that Koch-linked foundations, including the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, gave $1,650,500 to FREE between 1987 and 2009.

No big surprises here, and nothing that makes Smith any worse than any of the other movement-conservative judges out there, but still.

(X-posted at Booman Tribune.)


BH said...

Yep. See my comment under your "St. Reagan" post. One other personal observation: in my line of work, which is representing Social Security/SSI disability claimants in federal court appeals after the Social Security Admn has finished screwing them, no sane claimant's lawyer ever appeals to the 5th Circuit. It's pointless; this 5th Circuit almost never disagrees with the guvmint, so long as it's when the guvmint is kicking some poor helpless SOB to the curb.

Anonymous said...

It's also the circuit where the EPA just had to back out of pressing it authority to regulate fracking.

The gas companies were fired up to take the case to the Circuit, knowing they would prevail and create bad case law. The EPA had no choice but to back out and wait to file a similar case in a friendlier locale.

Erik A. Prince said...

The whole idea of Federal Judges being gifted resort trips to be fed conservative training, or Liberal training for that matter, just seems idiotic. Pretty much destroys the very idea of unbiased judicial review, doesn't it? I know, I know! I'm so naive sometimes.