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Edith Clement: "Stealth Candidate"
07/19/05

Rumors abound that "His Majesty," King George the Second, will be nominating Edith Clement to the SCOTUS. According to right-wing extremist Hadley Arkes, she would restrict abortion rights.

Here's what Arkes had to say about Clement (to whom Arkes refers as Edith Joy Clement) at the "National Review Online" last week:

...[Clement] would be a harder target: Her own specialty was in maritime law; she has not dealt, in her opinions, with the hot-button issues of abortion and gay rights; and she has stirred no controversies in her writings or in her speeches off the bench. She would be the most disarming nominee, and it would be a challenge even for Ralph Neas or Moveon.org to paint her as an ogre who could scare the populace. The main unease would come in the family of conservatives: If people don’t know her personally, they will suspect another Souter or Kennedy. For they have seen the hazard in relying on the assurances given even by the most reliable conservatives, who claim they can vouch for the nominee.

...Edith Clement may be the stealth candidate who, for once, delivers to the other side the jolt of an unwelcome surprise. She may be the disarming candidate who truly disarms before she goes on to do the most important work that a conservative jurist at this moment can do.

And what is that most important work? For the conservatives, the most consequential shift would come in flipping the decision on Stenberg v. Carhart (2000) and upholding the federal ban on partial-birth abortion. [Clement] would guarantee that outcome; and in my own reckoning, such a decision on partial-birth abortion would virtually bring to an end the Roe v. Wade regime. For it would send up a signal to legislatures throughout the country that the Court was now open for business in sustaining many varieties of restriction on abortion.

Here's the Washington Post's summary about Clement; I used this information to verify that Arkes, who discussed two different judges named Edith in his article, was indeed speaking of the one now rumored to be the SCOTUS nominee:
Edith Brown Clement, 57, is a judge on the New Orleans-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.

Clement was nominated by President George H.W. Bush to serve as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana in 1991 and was elevated to her current post by the current President Bush in 2001.

Clement, a graduate of the University of Alabama and Tulane University Law School, worked as a lawyer in private practice in New Orleans for 16 years before beginning her tenure on the federal bench. She specialized in civil litigation involving maritime law, representing oil companies, insurance companies and the marine services industry in cases before federal courts. She is a member of the Federalist Society, an influential conservative legal organization.

As a district judge, Clement presided over such high-profile cases as the 2000 trials of former Louisiana governor Edwin W. Edwards (D) and former state insurance commissioner Jim Brown (D) on fraud charges. Edwards was acquitted; Brown was convicted of lying to the FBI and sentenced to six months in prison.

Lawyers who know Clement or have tried cases before her describe her as a judicial conservative who leans toward the defense in civil cases, and as a no-nonsense judge who is strict about deadlines and insists on professionalism from lawyers.

Analysts say Clement has not attracted attention for her judicial opinions, so it is unclear which of her decisions, if any, might become the focus of a confirmation battle.

And there you have it: The Bushites have found themselves with a candidate without a paper trail but who they firmly believe will carry out the Radical Right's agenda.

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