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Sunday, July 21, 2024 | Back issues
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Ex-Bush Administration Attorney Lands DC Judgeship

The Senate on Monday overwhelmingly confirmed a former Bush White House lawyer who spent the last decade on the U.S. Sentencing Commission to a seat on a Washington, D.C. federal court.

WASHINGTON (CN) - The Senate on Monday overwhelmingly confirmed a former Bush White House lawyer who spent the last decade on the U.S. Sentencing Commission to a seat on a Washington, D.C. federal court.

The Senate sent Dabney Friedrich to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia with a 97-3 vote on Monday night, with only Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., voting against her.

Friedrich spent three years as associate counsel to former President George W. Bush before he appointed her to the United States Sentencing Commission in December 2006.

As a member of the panel, Friedrich helped craft sentencing guidelines and voted to retroactively apply the guidelines that reduced the disparity in sentences for crimes involving crack and powdered cocaine.

Speaking at the meeting when the commission voted to change the guidelines, Friedrich called the disparity in punishments for the two drugs an "injustice" and said the move would help "restore a greater fairness in sentencing."

Friedrich told Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., in a written response to questions submitted after her nomination hearing that her time on the Sentencing Commission would be an asset to her on the bench.

"I believe that my experience as a commissioner provides me with insight into the aims and objectives of the federal sentencing regime that will prove valuable when I confront sentencing decisions," Friedrich wrote to Durbin in August.

Friedrich worked as a federal prosecutor in both California and Virginia before moving to Congress, where she served as counsel to Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Former President Barack Obama renominated Friedrich to the Sentencing Commission in 2010 and she served on the commission until her term expired at the end of last year.

Trump nominated Friedrich to the D.C. federal bench in June after Republicans prevented Obama's choice from taking the seat during the blockade they put up against judicial nominees in the last year of his term.

Friedrich said in written responses to questions from lawmakers that she is not and has never been a member of the Federalist Society, the conservative organization that has had a hand in picking several of Trump’s nominees, including U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Her path through the Senate was relatively uncontroversial, as she cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee in a unanimous vote in September.

Like other Trump nominees who spent time in the Bush administration, senators probed Friedrich over her involvement in controversial decisions the administration made on the treatment and detention of suspected terrorists after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., questioned why Friedrich once said the Bush administration's ability to detain American citizens as enemy combatants was "clear."

According to Whitehouse, Friedrich also described the living conditions for detainees as "among the best ever provided by a country to individuals who have taken up arms against it.”

Friedrich wrote to Whitehouse she made the remarks as part of her job as a White House lawyer and that they did not reflect her personal views, only the "administration's legal position at that time."

She also said she was not assigned issues involving the Department of Defense when she was at the White House.

Categories / Courts, Government

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