Senate Republicans Name Their Chief Counsel for Nominations
By Carrie Johnson
Underscoring the imminence of a Supreme Court nomination, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee have hired a Bush Justice Department veteran to lead the team that will pore over the record of President Obama's choice.
Elisebeth Cook will serve as GOP chief counsel for Supreme Court nominations, Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.), the committee's top Republican, announced Friday. Cook will lead the day-to-day effort of conducting "a substantive examination of the nominee's record," the lawmaker said in a statement.
This morning, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that he expects a nomination this week from the White House to replace retiring Justice David H. Souter.
Politicians and interest groups on both sides of the political aisle are girding for the first high-stakes court appointment of Obama's young presidency.
Cook left the Justice Department earlier this year. There, she served as President George W. Bush's assistant attorney general for legal policy, advising the department's top leaders on judge selection, civil rights and federal regulations. She regularly testified before Congress and is well known in the D.C. legal community.
Cook boasts sterling conservative legal credentials. She served as a law clerk to two of the most influential Republican jurists in the country: Senior Judge Laurence H. Silberman on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and U.S. District Court Judge Lee Rosenthal in the Southern District of Texas. In private practice she logged time at the firm Cooper & Kirk, a GOP powerhouse based in the District.
She is the second Bush Justice veteran to join Sessions's team at Judiciary. Brian A. Benczkowski, who served as chief of staff to Bush attorney general Michael B. Mukasey, was named the committee's Republican staff director earlier this month.
May 24, 2009; 11:28 AM ET
Categories: Supreme Court
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