Judicial Watch • Top Obama Counsel Unlawfully Blocked Judge’s Confirmation

Top Obama Counsel Unlawfully Blocked Judge’s Confirmation

Top Obama Counsel Unlawfully Blocked Judge’s Confirmation

NOVEMBER 26, 2008

The new director of the White House Domestic Policy Council was a top congressional aide who unlawfully obstructed a federal judge’s confirmation in order to influence a high-profile affirmative action case.

Barack Obama’s pick (Melody Barnes) to head the highly influential office masterminded the scandalous scheme while she served as Senator Ted Kennedy’s chief counsel on the Judiciary Committee in 2002. Barnes successfully delayed the confirmation of President George W. Bush’s judicial nominee to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to influence the court’s ruling on an affirmative action case involving University of Michigan law school students.

In memos obtained by the media, Barnes directs Senator Kennedy to hold off on any 6th Circuit nominee until the University of Michigan case regarding the constitutionality of affirmative action in higher education is decided. Recognizing the impropriety of a delay for that purpose, one of the memos states that if a new judge with conservative views is confirmed before the case is decided, that new judge will be able to review the case and vote on it.

The judge, Julia Gibbons, was eventually confirmed a few months after the court ruled 5-4 to uphold Michigan’s affirmative action program. At the time Judicial Watch filed an ethics complaint with the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Ethics against Kennedy. 

The detailed complaint offers a timeline of the unlawful events and points out that the veteran Massachusetts Democrat and his agents deliberately manipulated both the judicial confirmation and legal processes to achieve a partisan political goal. 

Now the woman who orchestrated the illegal and unethical plot will serve as the next president’s top adviser in a wide range of crucial issues, including education, health, criminal justice and labor. The Domestic Policy Council was created by executive order in 1993 and officially includes the cabinet secretaries and administrators of key federal agencies that affect domestic issues. 

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