Trump's Latest Nomination for 5th Circuit: Andy Oldham

By William Vogeler, Esq. on February 13, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Andy Oldham barely had time to decorate his office when President Trump nominated him to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Oldham was just named general counsel by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Jan. 2, when the President came calling a month later. It may be a bit of a rush for the nominee, but changes have been coming to the appeals court for a while.

It is Trump's third nominee to the Fifth Circuit since he took office, and they all came from Texas. That's good and bad news, depending on how you look at it.

Little Disruptive?

For the governor, it's a little disruptive. The president has picked off two of his top legal advisers and one of his top judges in the past two months.

The Senate confirmed former Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett and former Texas solicitor general James Ho to the Fifth Circuit in December. With Oldham's nomination, the appeals court is being quickly reshaped.

It has long been a conservative circuit, with two-thirds of the justices having been appointed by Republican presidents. Almost all of those appointees came from Texas.

But it has also been called "the nation's most divisive" and controversial appeals court. Given the appellation of the "Ninth Circus," that's saying something.

Most Divisive?

Two years ago, Chief Judge Carl Stewart said in an interview there had been some infighting and controversy in the circuit. Perhaps Willett, Ho, and Oldham will bring some changes.

Trump, for his part, created another vacancy on the Fifth Circuit last month by nominating Judge Edward Pardo to serve as ambassador to Argentina.

Oldham, a former law clerk to Justice Samuel Alito Jr. and legal counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice, graduated from Harvard Law School. Gov. Abbott said he has a "brilliant mind."

"This is an excellent choice of a strict construction constitutionalist," he said and drew a comparison to Trump's first Supreme Court nominee, Justice Neil Gorsuch. "I think he's even better than Gorsuch."

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