Former Federal Judge Opposes Kentaji Brown Jackson, but Also Has a Conflict of Interest

Supporters of the various Supreme Court short-listers are working hard to elevate their preferred candidate while knee-capping the others. Much of this wrangling is occurring behind the scenes, but some of it is spilling out into public view.

Case in point: This week, NBC News reported that former federal judge U.W. Clemon wrote a letter opposing the nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court due to her decision in Ross v. Lockheed Martin Corp, rejecting a proposed class action settlement. Because Clemon was the first African-American judge on the federal bench in Alabama, this letter would seem to carry some weight.

Judge Clemon is not simply a disinterested observer, however. He is also a partner in a law firm that was involved in the case. Further, as Adam Schulman of the Hamilton Lincoln Law Institute explains in this Volokh Conspiracy post, Judge Jackson’s decision cost that firm a decent chunk of change, and Judge Clemon did not disclose this conflict of interest in his letter.

As this is not my area of law, I have no idea whether Judge Jackson reached the right decision, or whether Judge Clemon identified legitimate complaints about it. What is clear, however, is that the various camps are working hard to promote their favored candidate and, in the process, settle some old scores.

Jonathan H. Adler — Mr. Adler is an NRO contributing editor and the inaugural Johan Verheij Memorial Professor of Law at Case Western Reserve University School of Law. His latest book is Marijuana Federalism: Uncle Sam and Mary Jane.