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Editor/Founder: Bill Smith, Ph.D. [aka: OzarkGuru & 2010 AFP National Blogger of the Year]
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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Reid Signals Williness to Ram Trough Controversial Judicial Nominees

Today in Washington, D.C. - May 3, 2011:
Last night, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid filed cloture on S. 493, the bill reauthorizing the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs. Yesterday, the Senate unanimously confirmed two district judge nominees.

Also, last night, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) filed cloture on the nomination of John “Jack” McConnell, a controversial Rhode Island trial lawyer, to be a district judge. A cloture vote on his nomination could come as early as Wednesday this week. Curt Levey on the Committee for Justis blog, summed up Reid's actions, "Reid signaled Monday that he is ready to go to war over President Obama’s most controversial judicial nominees, as well as the equally contentious Deputy Attorney General nominee James Cole. After announcing Monday that he will attempt to force votes on the controversial nominees, Reid filed cloture on one of them—Rhode Island district court nominee John McConnell . . . . The outcome of the votes will be closely watched both for their own sake and as an indicator of whether Reid will meet success if he follows through fully on his threat to go to war over Obama’s most controversial nominees, including radioactive Ninth Circuit nominee Goodwin Liu."

For the first time ever, the US Chamber has opposed a judicial nomination. Harold Kim of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform spoke at the Hermitage Foundation's Blogger's Briefing today and expressed grave concerns over the controversial nomination of Jack McConnell to a district court seat in Rhode Island. Today, Amanda Carey related in The Daily Caller, "Jack McConnell has been described throughout his career as a political high-roller and glorified ambulance-chaser as he, along with his law firm Motley Rice, pursued cases that cost taxpayers and resulted in big financial payouts to the firm. According to one Republican Capitol Hill staffer, McConnell’s legal theories were not supported by 'logic or the law.' McConnell built his personal wealth on tobacco litigation in the 1990s. Today, those cases still net him about $2.5 million a year. Then, his firm went to work using a “public nuisance” law to sue paint companies over lead paint even if it could not be proven that a company manufactured the damaged paint. [His] political donations and active fundraising for Democratic causes have raised suspicions among his detractors. . . . According to an analysis of the Providence Journal, among the 1,500 nominees to U.S. courts since 1988, McConnell is the top financial contributor to congressional and presidential campaigns."

When President Obama sent his nomination to the Senate last year, The Wall Street Journal described him in an editorial as “one of the East Coast's most notorious plaintiff attorneys and Democratic partisans.” Further, the WSJ wrote, “The White House would have been hard pressed to find a nominee with a more thorough antibusiness record.”

In an April editorial, The Journal described Jack McConnell’s career. “As a partner at Motley Rice, Mr. McConnell built his career on tobacco and asbestos before moving to lead paint. In 1999, he was hired by Rhode Island's attorney general to sue companies that produced lead paint decades ago. He engineered a ‘public nuisance’ theory of liability that was designed to allow plaintiffs to recover whopping awards from paint companies without having to prove product liability. He went on to earn his partisan bona fides as treasurer of the state Democratic Party.”

The WSJ editorial went on to point out, “The lead paint suits ultimately failed on their legal implausibility, but the relationships they built are still working for Mr. McConnell. The Rhode Island AG who hired Mr. McConnell was none other than Sheldon Whitehouse, now a Democratic Senator and Mr. McConnell's biggest booster. . . . According to the Center for Responsive Politics, over the past two decades Mr. McConnell and his wife have donated more than $500,000 to Democratic candidates and party organizations, including thousands to [Democrat Rhode Island Senators] Reed and Whitehouse.”

According to a report last year in Rhode Island’s Providence Journal, “John J. McConnell Jr., President Obama’s choice for the U.S. District Court in Rhode Island, is one of the top election campaign contributors among the nearly 1,500 nominees to the federal courts since the late 1980s. McConnell, 51, a Providence lawyer, has given at least $432,456 to Democratic House, Senate and presidential campaigns since the 1990 election cycle, according to a Providence Journal analysis of reports to the Federal Election Commission. Over the years, McConnell contributed tens of thousands of dollars in total to the campaign funds of major Democratic presidential candidates and of Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse. The Rhode Island senators last April recommended McConnell for a seat on the court. McConnell is also a substantial contributor to the party campaign arm that helps elect Democrats to the Senate, whose members must vote on whether to seat him on the federal bench. It is commonplace for presidents and senators to look to their political backers and campaign fundraisers to fill important federal jobs, including judgeships. But the size of McConnell’s contributions distinguishes him from his peers in the pool of prospects for lifetime seats on the federal bench.”

The WSJ editors also noted another troubling aspect of Jack McConnell’s past, concerning the failed lead paint lawsuits: “The Judiciary Committee's review of Mr. McConnell also raised new questions about his involvement with a scandal at Motley Rice and what he told the committee about it. The issue, which involves the theft of confidential documents in a lead paint case, is the subject of a Sherwin Williams lawsuit in Ohio against the firm. In response to written questions from Arizona Senator Jon Kyl in May 2010, Mr. McConnell told the committee he wasn't very involved in the lead paint case, was not familiar with the documents in question and had no reason to believe he'd be one of the defendants in the Ohio lawsuit. In deposition testimony in September 2010, however, his memory was suddenly refreshed: He was the first lawyer in his office to review the documents, signed a brief which incorporated portions of them and even helped write an article about the information.”

It is interesting to note that the only Republican voting in committee, who voted with the democrats on this controversial nominee, was Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.  He continues to be a know it all RINO and while expecting other conservative senators to support him is unwilling to vote with them on a controversial nomination. 

On another issue, today U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and every Republican on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee [Senators Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Richard Burr (R-S.C.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.)]  signed a letter to the Acting General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) expressing significant concerns with its recent decision to file a complaint against The Boeing Company for its plans to open a new facility in Charleston, South Carolina.  The senators argued that this complaint could negatively impact business decisions throughout the country.

“The NLRB’s complaint against Boeing is nothing short of a power grab that will have a chilling impact on economic growth and liberty,” Hatch said.  “It presumes the authority of the federal government to swoop in and tell a private company where and how it has to do business.  That is simply unacceptable.  Not only is the complaint wrong on the law – Boeing’s decision was perfectly legitimate – but the remedy the Board is seeking – forced relocation of the South Carolina plant -- is simply outrageous.  This is yet another example of the Obama administration using the administrative agencies to pay back the unions for their political support.”

The NLRB’s complaint alleges that Boeing’s decision to open a new production line for its Dreamliner 787 fleet in South Carolina – a Right-to-Work state – interfered with the legal rights of Boeing’s union employees at its plant in Puget Sound, Washington.  In their letter, the senators argued that the Boeing made a legitimate business decision which had no negative impact on the Puget Sound workforce.  In fact, as noted in the letter, Boeing has added 2,000 jobs to its Washington facility since it announced the decision to open the South Carolina plant in 2009.  In the complaint, the NLRB is seeking remedy that would force Boeing to move its additional production line to Washington, which would result in the loss of hundreds of jobs in South Carolina. The letter to the NLRB can beRead Here.

Tags: Washington, D.C., judicial nominees, Harry Reid, NLRB, private business, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Posted by Bill Smith at 3:34 PM - Post Link


Anonymous Kerri Sullins said...

I am really opposed to name-calling but, sometimes, what's left!!

Frustrated - they don't learn!


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