President Nominates White House Lawyer for D.C. Circuit

By George Khoury, Esq. on September 11, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The White House has announced President Donald Trump's pick for the vacant seat on D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals: Gregory Katsas, the current deputy counsel in the White House Counsel's Office.

If Katsas is confirmed by the Senate, the conservative seat vacated by Judge Janice Rogers Brown will be filled by another conservative. Katsas, whose distinguished legal career has never included serving as a justice, is expected to be questioned as to his prior casework as an attorney, as well as his motivations and politics, given his close ties to the current White House.

Who's This Katsas?

Gregory Katsas, prior to becoming a deputy counsel at the White House, was an appellate attorney at the firm Jones Day. He also put in nearly a decade during the last Bush administration in the Department of Justice, rising to the head of the Civil Division, and also serving as an acting associate attorney general.

Katsas's career is as impressive as his education. He graduated from Princeton University, then went to Harvard for law school, and was an editor on the Harvard Law Review.

His casework has covered a variety of issues including Guantanamo Bay, matters of terrorism, counterterrorism, national security, abortion, and more. He also boasts a 75 percent win ratio on his appeals.

Can an Executive Branch Lawyer Be Confirmed?

While it may appear odd that a member of the executive branch of government receives a nomination to join the judicial branch, any potential conflict of interest with the executive branch seemingly would end upon the lifelong appointment. There have been several instances throughout history where federal judicial appointments were made from White House staff, or to individuals who have never served as justices before.

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