In an op-ed for the Racine Journal Times, the president of the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty explains why the oldest vacancy on a federal Appeals Court in the country should be filled by Wisconsin Judge Michael Brennan:
As someone who has served on the Federal Judicial Nominating Commission for almost five years, I can tell you that the breadth of Brennan’s experience is unusual. He has been in private practice, having worked at two of Milwaukee’s finest law firms. But he also has experience in criminal law. As an assistant district attorney in Milwaukee County, he prosecuted felony and misdemeanor cases and lead the prosecution’s efforts in approximately 50 trials. And he has served on the bench. As a Milwaukee Circuit Court judge, he presided over nearly 300 trials. In 2005, he was affirmed by higher courts more than any other judge in the state. This trifecta of experience — civil law, criminal law prosecutor and judge — is unusual.
Not surprisingly, Brennan has been recognized by the American Bar Association as “well qualified” for this nomination, the highest rating awarded by the ABA.
Esenberg says the US Senate should act swiftly to confirm Brennan when they reconvene. We have previously reported on the reasons behind the vacancy on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s refusal to confirm President Donald Trump’s nominee despite her own record on the importance of filling the vacancy.
As Esenberg explains, while it may be politics holding up the Brennan nomination, Brennan himself would not bring his politics to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals:
Judge Brennan once told me something that I have repeated frequently. The role of a judge involves “self-abnegation.” In other words, it involves following the law and not one’s personal preferences. Out of the courtroom, Judge Brennan has been a staunch advocate of “originalism.” The idea that the Constitution should be read to mean what those who adopted it would have understood it to mean. This is not an easy task and it does not mean the old principles cannot be applied to new circumstances or that new constitutional language such as the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause should be ignored.
But what originalism does do is root the courts in law and not politics. As I noted last year, “By attempting to discern what the people who adopted a constitutional provision understood it to mean, judges seek to limit themselves to those constitutional restraints on democracy that ‘We the People’ actually adopted.” This is what separates judges from legislators.