Senate confirms Ariz. SC justice to Ninth Circuit

Jessica M. Karmasek Jun. 13, 2012, 9:15am



WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - Arizona Supreme Court Justice Andrew Hurwitz was confirmed to a federal appeals court Tuesday.

The Senate confirmed Hurwitz's nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit by voice vote, instead of a roll call.

Cloture to end debate on the justice's nomination was invoked Monday by a vote of 60-31.

Hurwitz, who was nominated by President Barack Obama in November, will replace Judge Mary M. Schroeder of Phoenix, who took semi-retired senior status on Jan. 1.

Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl, Arizona's junior senator, applauded Hurwitz's confirmation.

"I am pleased that Andrew Hurwitz has been confirmed by the Senate. As a member of the Arizona Supreme Court for nearly a decade, Justice Hurwitz has proved an able jurist," he said in a statement Tuesday.

"While I understand the concern expressed by some of my colleagues, I believe it is misplaced. To my knowledge, he has never allowed his personal views to improperly influence judicial decisions. His record gives me confidence that he will continue to judge cases strictly on their merits."

Earlier this year, a group aimed at "judicial renewal" came out against Hurwitz's nomination to the Ninth Circuit.

In a four-page paper published in February, the Judicial Action Group said every senator "who takes pride in their pro-life voting record" must vote against Hurwitz.

The group describes its mission as "to work through accountability, appointments and prayer for the return of the judiciary to its proper, and noble, role of deciding cases and not legislating from the bench."

The group claimed Hurwitz was the architect of the legal arguments eventually used by the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade.

After earning his law degree from Yale in 1972, Hurwitz clerked for Judge Jon O. Newman for the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut.

As Newman's clerk, Hurwitz helped him author two pro-abortion opinions.

"Hurwitz claims that these pro abortion decisions influenced the Supreme Court's decision in Roe and Hurwitz makes it clear that he is very proud of his role in these pro-abortion decisions," JAG wrote in its paper.

The group argued that Hurwitz chooses to celebrate the "patently activist conclusions" of the ruling, and that he continues to take pride in helping to craft the case that had "critical influence" on Roe v. Wade.

"Roe is not only a constitutional abomination but also a moral abomination that has resulted in judicial sanction of the killing of tens of millions of unborn children. Hurwitz should be ashamed of his role in Roe," JAG wrote.

According to The Associated Press, the decision to confirm the justice's nomination by voice vote upset Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa. Grassley, pointing to the justice's involvement in the Roe v. Wade decision, opposed Hurwitz's nomination.

An unnamed Democratic leadership official told the AP Tuesday that a deal was worked out to avoid a roll call on the justice's nomination.

Hurwitz has served on Arizona's high court since 2003 and as vice chief justice since 2009. He also serves as an adjunct professor of law at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, where he has taught regularly over the past three decades.

A native of New York, he graduated from Princeton University in 1968 and Yale Law School in 1972.

Hurwitz also served for four years in the Connecticut Army National Guard, after which he served in the U.S. Army Reserve.

After law school, he joined the Arizona law firm of Martori Meyer Hendricks & Victor, now known as Osborn Maledon. He became a shareholder in the firm in 1977.

He left the firm in 1980 to spend three years serving as chief of staff to Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt.

In 1983, Hurwitz returned to the law firm and spent the next 20 years there, specializing in appellate work and complex civil litigation. During that time, he argued two matters before the U.S. Supreme Court.

In addition, for a brief period in 1988, he served as chief of staff to Arizona Gov. Rose Mofford.

Hurwitz also served as a judge pro tempore on the Arizona Court of Appeals, Division 1, in 1994, 1996 and 1998.

The Ninth Circuit hears appeals of cases decided by executive branch agencies and federal trial courts in nine western states and two Pacific Island jurisdictions. The court meets monthly in Seattle, Wash., San Francisco, Calif., and Pasadena, Calif.; every other month in Portland, Ore.; three times per year in Honolulu; and twice a year in Anchorage, Alaska.

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