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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.

By Post Editor  |  May 24, 2009; 11:28 AM ET
Categories:  Supreme Court  
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So the Republicans are depending on people who served in Bush's Justice Department, during the golden age of Alberto Gonzalez and Michael Mukasey, when the reputation of the Justice Department reached its nadir.

Perfect choices.

Posted by: lowercaselarry | May 24, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Let me guess...Liberty University?

Posted by: roadrunner1 | May 24, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

If Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.)is the conservative republican leading the GOP opposition to any nomination President Obama puts forth then expect a lot name-calling from the extreme right controlling the GOP.

Adding ex cheney/bush justice department officials will only give ammunition to democrats.

Posted by: knjincvc | May 24, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Keep bringing talibushies up, the world is sick of these WACO's.

R = really endangered as in the republican

Posted by: 1-20-09 | May 24, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Worth reading twice or more!
lowercaselarry's Comment:
"So the Republicans are depending on people who served in Bush's Justice Department, during the golden age of Alberto Gonzalez and Michael Mukasey, when the reputation of the Justice Department reached its nadir."

Thank you!

Posted by: lufrank1 | May 24, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

unbelievable,on second thought its what one would expect. im sure cheney instructed sessions who to appoint,he cannot think for himself. we have to remember for the past 8 yrs these people werent allowed to think for themselves. only take orders from bush/cheney youra good boy jeff.

Posted by: donaldtucker | May 24, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

A counsel for the Repos?
What for?
Whoever is nominated by president Obama WILL BE THE NEXT SUPREME COURT JUSTICE. it, Repos!

Posted by: analyst72 | May 24, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Ram the appointment through.

It matters not WHO Obama nominates, the Republicans will throw mud and try to obstruct the process like petulant teenagers.

Just ram it through and forget about any false display of "bipartisanship". They did it before, and look at the 5-4 mess we have now.

Screw 'em. Just ram it through a.s.a.p.

Posted by: phoenixresearch | May 24, 2009 5:36 PM | Report abuse

It has been funny to hear republicannots on the talk show circuit warning Mr Obama not to select a radical for the supreme court. Sen Sessions and the Bush Justice department appointees to his staff are such moderates. Right!

Posted by: tplocki | May 24, 2009 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Cook is a graduate of the University of Chicago (BA) and Harvard Law School and has had a distinguished career in the law. Therefore, the "Liberty University" crack seems out of line.

Ms. Cook is certainly both educationally and experientially qualified for the position to which she has been appointed. Let us hope that she has the gravitas to control the more vitriolic partisan screeds in the Republican firmament who will hypocritically denounce any candidate nominated by Mr. Obama - for most assuredly Mr. Roberts and Mr. Alito do not meet the purported criteria of not being "activist judges," not ruling based on a preconceived ideology, and most certainly neither of them could ever be accused of not consistently ruling with empathy for big business against the individual. I give you Mr. Alito's opinion in the Ledbetter vs. Goodyear case (with which Mr. Roberts concurred) as clear and convincing evidence.

Posted by: jdcolv | May 25, 2009 6:48 AM | Report abuse

Ah the GOP up to it's usual, preparing a smear campaign even before the nominee has been named. At least they're consistent!

Posted by: mtnmanvt | May 25, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

thank you jdcolv, your post gives us more info than Cillizza's blog. To be sure, Roberts spent most of his time in private practice and in Bush41 administration representing the interest of corporate defendants against individual citizens. And in 2006, he told Congress that the Justices needed a pay hike. Denied- can't have the Supremes making more than the average Congressmen. Should have stayed in private practice if money was a concern, hard to get used to $169,000 a year as opposed to a million in private practice.
He is the epitome of what Prez Obama DOESNOT want on the bench.

Posted by: katem1 | May 25, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

You liberal assassins are hilarious. All you need to do...and you are more than likely to look at the votes and treatment of Breyer and Ginsburg during the Clinton era and see how Republicans have operated. Clinton nominated unabashed liberal jurists and Republicans voted tooverwhelmingly approve their nominations. Contrast this with the character assassinations begun with Robert Bork in the Reagan era, the "high-tech" lynching of Clarence Thomas, and the virulent opposition to and threatened filibusters of the nominations of Roberts and Alito. Look at those votes. Obama's nominees deserve respect and deference but rigorous questioning. Your attempts to smear are par for the course I guess...given that Leahy will, no doubt, be tossing softballs toward the nominee. are hilarious...and utterly predictable.

Posted by: jmpchicago | May 25, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Let's not forget who invented the partisan "smear at any cost" strategy on Supreme Court nominees. None other than our foot-in-mouth vice president. And lately it's been that left-wing sheep-in-moderate-clothing and chief purveyor of politics of personal destruction, Pat Leahy. It's the usual double standard being applied to the GOP who are only taking a leaf from the Democratic play book.

Posted by: sstockm524 | May 25, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Jeff Sessions, a racist?

Posted by: fblaze | May 25, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Is the new director's name pronounced "bench" - "cow" - "ski"? Would that be an indicator how Sessions and his cronies intend to treat lady nominees?

Posted by: reformthesystem | May 26, 2009 4:05 AM | Report abuse

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