October 06, 2004

Stalking Sutton

by PG

Someone at a federal court stopped by HSM today with the Yahoo search 'judge sutton and "candidate for the supreme court,"' which sent her to this post. If she's a Sutton fan, my thoughts may not be encouraging, as I think that he has a fairly clear record on civil rights and federalism that makes him likely to get blocked by Senate Democrats (without even the saving grace, in liberals' eyes, of being an unrepresented minority, as Miguel Estrada or Alberto Gonzales would be). More discussion of Jeffrey Sutton at De Novo.

Sutton appears an unlikely Supreme Court candidate in the near future for reasons beyond politics and pigmentation; having been an appellate judge for only a couple of years (as of fall 2004), he could be discounted for lack of experience. On the plus side, he seems to have been successful in keeping a fairly low profile in the mainstream media since joining the 6th Circuit. A GoogleNews search pops only one year-old piece mentioning him, and even that in a fairly retrospective way: "Business groups cheered the appointment of Jeffrey Sutton, a conservative activist, to the 6th Circuit because of his long record of opposing federal powers over the states, including a successful case that voided federal employee-discrimination laws."

This is not to say that his decisions have gone unnoted by legal observers, however. Just yesterday, How Appealing pointed to an opinion Sutton issued on behalf of a unanimous three judge panel regarding "the right to intimate association, the right to privacy and the right to be free of arbitrary state action." In August, Sutton wrote a majority opinion for an en banc 6th Circuit that preserved the federal sentencing guidelines post-Blakely.

I'll update later with a substantive look at whether even these two decisions would be likely ammunition for Senate Democrats in a hypothetical Sutton SCOTUS candidacy, but for now I think that their objections would rest on the same issues they raised when he was up for the 6th Circuit: Sutton's federalism philosophy and active advocacy, before his judgeship, on behalf of states against the expansion of civil rights.

October 6, 2004 01:31 PM | TrackBack
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