Bloomberg Law
June 21, 2024, 7:49 PM UTC

Federal Judges Criticize Congress Over Attacks on Nominees

Jacqueline Thomsen
Jacqueline Thomsen

Federal judges spoke out against attacks by members of Congress on judicial nominees, saying attorneys should push back against those accusations to keep judges safe.

Speaking at the Federalist Society’s Third Circuit Chapters Conference in Philadelphia on Friday, Judge Richard Sullivan of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit said that, as he talks to newly appointed federal judges about security issues, some have reported already having gotten death threats.

He said attorneys need to “step up” to defend federal judicial nominees from attacks, political or otherwise.

Third Circuit Judge Cheryl Ann Krause noted that judicial nominees have been attacked for clients they’ve defended or cases they’ve taken on.

“They’re being attacked for taking on the representation with the insinuation that they must make little of the crime or that they’re prepared to look askance at criminal behavior,” she said. “We all know that’s not the case.”

She also noted that some of the senators who have raised those questions are lawyers themselves. She said as judges, they might not be able to defend nominees from those kinds of attacks, but that other attorneys can.

“Those kinds of remarks shouldn’t be left unchecked,” Krause said.

Craig Carpenito, a King & Spalding partner who was US attorney for New Jersey during the Trump administration, said that he signed a letter in support of Third Circuit nominee Adeel Mangi after he came under attack from conservatives. He said Mangi “is unquestionably qualified.”

Mangi, who would be first Muslim to sit on a federal appeals court, has hit back at criticism from Republicans who allege that he’s affiliated himself with antisemitic and anti-police groups.

“Whether motivated by attempts to portray my religion as violent, or any other goal, any suggestion that I have sympathy for attacks on law enforcement is shocking and false,” he said in a March letter.

Mangi’s nomination has stalled after three Democratic senators publicly refused to support him.

Carpenito on Friday said the Senate’s role is not to make sure that judges will rule a certain way once they’re on the bench, but to make sure the appointments aren’t the result of nepotism or political favors.

“When you start with politicians attacking our nominees, our judges, in public hearings, how can you possibly expect the rest of the citizens in this country who are far less educated and don’t understand the system to then respect those judges for the rest of their careers?” Carpenito said. “And people wonder why we have people attacking Supreme Court justices, we have people attacking our federal judiciary, our state judiciary.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Jacqueline Thomsen in Philadelphia at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Seth Stern at

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