I’m delighted to report that my friend Ed DuMont has been nominated to sit on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. I’ve known Ed since 1993, and think very highly of him: He’s extremely smart, thoughtful, calm, and fair-minded. He’s also a very experienced appellate lawyer, at the highest levels; besides being an appellate lawyer at Wilmer Hale — a top D.C. law firm — he worked for several years at the Solicitor General’s office, and has argued 18 cases before the Supreme Court. He also clerked for Judge Richard Posner on the Seventh Circuit, who is one of the top scholars and judges in the nation.
Rather than focusing on cases coming from a particular geographical area, the Federal Circuit “has nationwide jurisdiction in a variety of subject areas, including international trade, government contracts, patents, trademarks, certain money claims against the United States government, federal personnel, veterans’ benefits, and public safety officers’ benefits claims.” It is thus an unusually apolitical appellate court, which I hope means that Ed won’t run into the usual buzzsaw. (Just to give one example, the Federal Circuit cited Roe v. Wade once in the last 10 years, in a 2004 case dealing with a federal statute that barred federal funding for abortions in the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Services; the Circuit rightly upheld the statute, applying squarely on-point Supreme Court precedent. The most recent citation to Roe before then came in a 1997 case, which cited Roe for the proposition that, for federal courts to have jurisdiction, “controversy ‘must exist at stages of appellate or certiorari review, and not simply at the date the action is initiated.’”)
And beyond that, I’ve always found Ed to be the sort of moderate liberal that conservatives have every reason to like and get along with. The fact is that President Obama isn’t going to appoint conservative or libertarian judges. Of the nominees that President Obama is likely to appoint, I can’t think of any whom I would respect and trust more than I respect and trust Ed; and I suspect that most of them would be to the left (even well to the left) of Ed. I think that others who share my general political leanings should likewise be delighted with the appointment of a lawyer of Ed’s intellect, experience, judiciousness, and moderateness.
UPDATE: A comment from Orin Kerr: “I know Ed, too, and I think very highly of him. He’s a lawyer’s lawyer, and I think he would be a real asset to the Federal Circuit bench.”
FURTHER UPDATE: A comment from John Elwood, who overlapped with Ed Dumont at the Justice Department: “[A]nother in a series of fine nominations (and, I hope, eventual appointments) to the Federal Circuit, along with Bill Bryson and Tim Dyk–people who got the job more from sheer competence than connections (although connections don’t hurt).”
And a comment from Ken Anderson: “Ed DuMont is a very old friend, dating back to our days as junior associates at Sullivan & Cromwell, clear back in the 1980s. I can’t think of a better nomination to the federal bench. It’s not just brains and skill as a lawyer — I have known Ed for decades, and I do not believe I have ever known a lawyer who so much exemplifies that elusive quality of ‘judicial temperment.’ He is a wonderful person, measured, careful, technically sensitive, and deeply fair. This is a wonderful nomination.”