Today the Senate Judiciary committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of Peter Keisler to the D.C. Circuit, a mere 32 days following his nomination, despite the protest of Committee Democrats that this is simply not enough time to investigate the nominee. The shortest period between nomination and hearing among the last seven confirmed D.C. Circuit nominees was 71 days. Although no one doubts that Keisler is a top-notch lawyer, any nominee to a court as important as the D.C. Circuit should be subjected to a more thorough review of his or her background. The little information presently available tells us that in the 1980s Keisler was affiliated with the conservative Leadership Institute, was a co-founder of the Federalist Society, clerked for D.C. Circuit Judge Robert Bork, and was a lawyer in the Office of the Counsel to the President for the Reagan Administration. While at the White House, Keisler worked on Judge Bork 's nomination to the Supreme Court and actually expressed surprise that Bork’s far-right views were defined as “extreme” by the Senate. Most of the hundreds of files documenting Keisler’s work in the Reagan White House, which may help to shed light on Keisler’s views on the law, will take time to retrieve and review. Nonetheless, Republicans are pushing forward with Keisler's lifetime appointment to the nation's second most important court in the absence of such information.
For the AFJ’s Preliminary Report on the Keisler nomination, click here. For the letter to Committee Chairman Arlen Specter from the Coalition for a Fair and Independent Judiciary, opposing the premature hearing date, click here.