Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Elizabeth Warren Laments ‘Striking Lack Of Professional Diversity’ On Federal Courts, As ‘Corporate Capture’ Escalates

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) brought renewed attention to the critical battle over nominees to the federal courts Thursday evening, in remarks that blasted the “corporate capture” of the federal courts, and called on those concerned with the political system to care as much about the make-up of the courts as of the legislature.
Observing courts’ increasing tendency to side with corporate interests and narrow individuals’ access to justice, Warren flagged a glaring skew in the professional experience of federal judges, the vast majority of whom have experience either as corporate attorneys or prosecutors. Warren lamented that only three percent of federal appeals court judges have substantial legal experience working for a nonprofit organization, and a similar percentage have worked in some capacity to enforce civil rights, according to an American Constitution Society report. And while President Obama has been responsible for some of the most notable exceptions to this trend, recent accounts show that the federal courts continue to be dominated by the same sorts of professional backgrounds.
I want to be clear — there are some really, really talented judges who come from the private sector. I myself have worked for private clients. And it is of course true that the personal views of an attorney often diverge from those of his or her clients. But I think diversity of experience matters.
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