Mitch McConnell just engineered a lifetime judgeship for an ‘unqualified’ 33-year-old: 'Dangerous'

Mitch McConnell just engineered a lifetime judgeship for an ‘unqualified’ 33-year-old: 'Dangerous'
Photo via Gage Skidmore.

On Wednesday, The Daily Beast examined the "dangerous" record of 33-year-old Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, one of the final judicial nominees to be forced through by Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans — and her complete lack of qualifications for the job, beyond her high-powered conservative connections.

"One of five judicial nominees waved through by the lame duck Senate in a final vote before lawmakers left town for Thanksgiving, Mizelle's confirmation is the most galling," wrote Eleanor Clift. "Mizelle is only eight years out of law school (University of Florida), and the ABA's standard for a lifetime seat is 12 years of legal experience. She has had four distinguished clerkships, including one for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, but her only trial experience is as an intern before she graduated from law school. She will take her seat on the Eleventh Circuit for the Middle District of Florida having never tried a case — civil or criminal — as a lead attorney or co-counsel."

Very few judges are ever confirmed to the federal bench in their early 30s, noted Clift. "Mizelle joins that exclusive club because she is a well-connected Washington lawyer with conservative cred who travels in the right circles. At Jones Day, President Trump's favorite law firm, where she has been an associate since last year, Mizelle's profile page highlighted her successful representation of the Chamber of Commerce in fending off a demand from the AFL-CIO for greater worker protections during the COVID crisis."

"She is married to Chad Mizelle, who faced similar questions about his youth and inexperience last year when his friend and ally at the White House, Stephen Miller, smoothed the way for him to become the acting general counsel at the Department of Homeland Security, leading DHS' legal office of 2,500 attorneys just six years after graduating from law school," wrote Clift. "Apart from her skimpy experience, concerns about Kathryn Mizelle's ideology are at the core of Democratic opposition, and they originate with her tenure at the Justice Department in 2017 and 2018 supervising litigation handled by the Civil Rights Division. It was a time when many voting rights and LGBT protections were being rolled back."

Moreover, concluded Clift, since 1896, only one judicial nominee was ever advanced during a lame duck session of a defeated president.

"In 1980, a lame duck Senate confirmed Stephen Breyer to the Court of Appeals," wrote Clift. "Nominated by President Jimmy Carter, who had just lost reelection, Democrat Ted Kennedy and Republican Strom Thurmond saw Breyer's confirmation as a fitting reward for the work he had done as chief counsel of the Judiciary Committee, which they had led. More than a decade later, President Clinton elevated Breyer to the Supreme Court. Kathryn Mizell, I'm tempted to say, is no Stephen Breyer."

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