Donald Trump nominates White House lawyer to vital D.C. Circuit Court seat

Trump's nomination comes as his administration has faced a plethora of legal controversies

By Charlie May
Published September 8, 2017 10:45AM (EDT)
Donald Trump (AP/Susan Walsh)
Donald Trump (AP/Susan Walsh)

On Thursday, President Donald Trump appointed one of his own White House lawyers to fill a vital open seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Critics are expressing concern that an administration insider is being nominated to the court, which is likely going to see its share of Trump-related cases coming through.

Gregory Katsas, deputy White House counsel and former Justice Department official under George W. Bush's administration, was nominated to replace Judge Janice Rogers Brown who recently retired.

The court is often referred to as America's second highest court as it can serve as a "feeder" court for the U.S. Supreme Court. CNBC noted that it's "influential, in part because of its role in adjudicating many of the orders and laws put forth by the administration."

Here's how CNBC described Katsas' work history with the Trump administration:

Katsas, once a law clerk to Justice Thomas, has served in high-ranking Justice Department roles, including as head of the civil division that has responsibility for defending the administration's policies against court challenges. He is part of the steady stream of Jones Day law firm partners who have flowed into the Trump administration, including White House counsel Don McGahn.

So many Jones Day attorneys work in the White House that the counsel's office issued a blanket ethics waiver for them so that they can maintain contact with their former colleagues without running afoul of ethics provisions. Lawyers still at Jones Day continue to represent members of the Trump campaign outside the White House.

The Trump administration has been plagued with legal controversies since taking office, including the Trump campaign's alleged ties to the Russian government, Trump's original executive order which banned travel to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority nations, his so-called revised attempt to pass a travel ban which will be heard by the Supreme Court in October and a recent halted executive order that planned to strip federal funds from so-called sanctuary cities.

Unfortunately for the Democrats, they are left in an utterly powerless position, with no filibuster left for nominations and without a "blue slip" process on the D.C. Circuit, CNBC reported.

Charlie May

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