Former solicitors general write letter in support of Millett for D.C. Circuit

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) -- A bipartisan group of seven former U.S. solicitors general, including Kenneth W. Starr, say they support Patricia Ann Millett's nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The solicitors general -- Starr, who served from 1989-93; Drew S. Days III, 1993-96; Walter E. Dellinger, acting solicitor general, 1996-97; Seth P. Waxman, 1997-2001; Theodore B. Olson, 2001-04; Paul D. Clement, 2005-08; and Gregory G. Garre, 2008-09 -- sent a letter to U.S. Sens. Patrick Leahy and Chuck Grassley saying so last week.

In their two-page letter to Leahy, D-Vt. and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Grassley, R-Iowa and ranking member of the committee, the solicitors general argue that Millett is "supremely qualified" for a seat on the court.

"With deep experience in both private and government practice, she will bring an appreciation of both sides of the many important disputes before the District of Columbia Circuit," they wrote in their letter.

Read the full letter here.

Millett is one of three nominated, simultaneously, to the D.C. Circuit by President Barack Obama last month. The other two are Cornelia "Nina" Pillard and Robert Leon Wilkins.

Millett, who currently heads Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP's Supreme Court practice and co-heads the firm's national appellate practice, served for 15 years in the U.S. Department of Justice -- first as an appellate attorney in its civil division and then in the Solicitor General's Office.

Over the course of her career, she has argued a total of 32 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and about 36 in federal appeals courts.

"Ms. Millett has a brilliant mind, a gift for clear, persuasive writing, and a genuine zeal for the rule of law," the solicitors general wrote, including Starr, who received the most publicity for his tenure as Independent Counsel during former President Bill Clinton's term.

"Equally important, she is unfailingly fair-minded."

The solicitors general, in their letter, also acknowledged the ongoing debate over the "optimal number" of active judges on the D.C. Circuit; however, they took no position on the issue.

"If additional judges are to be confirmed, we think Ms. Millett's qualifications and character make her ideally suited for a position on that distinguished court," they wrote.

The D.C. Circuit is considered by some to be the second most important court in the country, after the Supreme Court.

It often is responsible for resolving critically important cases involving the separation of powers, the role of government, the rights of federal officials, and the decisions of a vast array of administrative agencies.

In fact, it was the D.C. Circuit that ruled Obama's "intrasession appointment" of three new members to the National Labor Relations Board was an unconstitutional abuse of power because he could not make those appointments without Senate confirmation because the Senate was not in recess.

The Senate Judiciary Committee announced last week Millett's hearing will be held Wednesday, starting at 10 a.m.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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