Law Review: Majority leader’s partisanship interferes with judicial process |

Law Review: Majority leader’s partisanship interferes with judicial process

Jim Porter

Mitch McConnell, majority leader of the U.S. Senate, vowed when President Obama was first elected in 2008 that he would never allow an Obama-proposed bill to make it through his chamber, and he renewed that vow when Obama was reelected in 2012. So much for putting the Country’s interests first.

“Moscow Mitch,” also known as “Turkey Neck” Mitch (to display my partisanship), has continued that policy to this day by almost singlehandedly blocking bills proposed by Democrats from passing through his chamber. Of course, he has had help from his complicit Republicans who privately chaff at such overtly partisan maneuvers but remain quiet behind their team leaders McConnell and Trump.


As a naïve but hopeful lawyer, I have always believed that for the most part judges are neutral and rely on the law to base their decisions. In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court is notorious for having judges that disappoint their appointing presidents, which to my liking is a good thing.

My vision of judges, or maybe it’s what judges should be, was shattered when the Supreme Court refused on a partisan split of votes to recount Florida’s controversial election of George W. Bush in 2000.

But that was nothing compared to where we are today. The appointment of Brett Kavanaugh is an example of how polarized appointments to the judiciary have become under Trump.


It was not enough that McConnell pushed his buddy and fellow Kentucky resident and former law clerk, 38-year-old Justin Walker through the judicial process ultimately landing him a job. Walker, who graduated from law school in 2009, fits McConnell’s mold of a young extreme right-wing judge is about to be appointed to the prestigious United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, not the Sixth District Court of Appeals which hears appeals from Kentucky Federal District courts, which would be more typical.

By the way, when Walker was first recommended by McConnell as a federal judge, he had never practiced law at a private firm, had never tried a case and had never served as a judge in any state or local court, and the American Bar Association rated Walker “not qualified.”

That’s only part of the effort by “Mischievous Mitch” to tilt a presumed level playing field in the federal judicial system.

As a sign of the difference between Trump and Obama, 14 of Obama’s 185 potential federal court nominees were rated as “not qualified.” Obama did not appoint any of those judges. Trump’s administration on the other hand denied the ABA access to background information about judicial nominees for evaluation purposes and completely ignores the ABA’s longstanding and generally highly regarded recommendations, preferring instead to get his list from the ultra-conservative Federalist Society.


So, the latest mischievous move by Mitch McConnell is to contact federal court of appeal justices who are older and conservative urging them to retire so he can appoint young ultraconservative judges. That crosses the line of separation of powers — partisanship above qualifications — putting McConnell’s philosophies above th.e country’s.

McConnell and Trump are dividing and destroying our country’s judiciary intentionally making the presumed neutral branch of government partisan, which is repugnant to this naïve, young lawyer, well maybe not so young, maybe not so naïve anymore, lawyer.

Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter Simon licensed in California and Nevada, with offices in Truckee and Tahoe City, California, and Reno, Nevada. Jim’s practice areas include: real estate, development, construction, business, HOAs, contracts, personal injury, accidents, mediation and other transactional matters. He may be reached at or

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