The Racine Journal Times | Esenberg: On Judge Michael Brennan’s Nomination to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals

WILL President and General Counsel Rick Esenberg writes in the Racine Journal Times on the nomination of judicial conservative Michael Brennan’s nomination to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals by President Trump:

Not surprisingly, Brennan has been recognized by the American Bar Association as “well qualified” for this nomination, the highest rating awarded by the ABA. On a personal note, I have known Judge Brennan for 25 years. I have never heard anyone question his legal capabilities. He is a thoughtful and thorough lawyer. 

We also want judges who understand and respect the rule of law and the proper role of the judiciary. 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. Judge Brennan will not change the legal strike zone regardless of who is on the mound.

Michael Brennan is unquestionably qualified to serve on the Seventh Circuit. More than that, he would be an outstanding selection because of his extensive experience, outstanding ability and deep understanding and respect for our Constitution and the rule of law. There is no reason, apart from petty politics, that he should not be swiftly confirmed by the U.S. Senate when they reconvene in 2018.

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