Arbitration Lobbyist Nixed For Justice Job
February 25, 2009, 10:04 am
Filed under: Ian

A former lobbyist for the Chamber of Commerce, whose name was previously floated to head the DOJ office traditionally responsible for choosing judges, will not be nominated to that position after all:

Mark Gitenstein, the top choice to head the Justice Department office that oversees legal policy and judicial nominations, is no longer being considered for the position, an administration official confirmed.

Gitenstein, a partner at Mayer Brown, was initially thought to be a shoo-in to head the Office of Legal Policy, but his lobbying background, particularly his work for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, helped scuttle his nomination.

The reform group Public Citizen launched a campaign in early February against Gitenstein’s nomination, sending a letter to Obama that cited the nominee’s work on legal reform issues as making him unsuitable for the job.

“This is someone who has lobbied on a set of legal issues that would be his domain at the office of legal policy, an important policy office,” said David Arkush, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch. “It’s not just that he lobbied on those issues, but he would have to recuse himself from a lot of matters at minimum, which raises questions about whether he would be the right person for the job.”

Gitenstein, to his credit, has a truly heroic record on civil rights—including his time spent working for the Senate Judiciary Committee where he was instrumental in blocking the nomination of ultra-conservative Judge Robert Bork to the Supreme Court.  Late in life, however, he left the Committee and lobbied to block the pro-consumer Arbitration Fairness Act.

I hope that Gitenstein’s story scares other ambitious progressives away from lobbying against the American consumer in the future.  So many people have told me that Gitenstein is an outstanding individual, which makes his decision to work against arbitration fairness all the more tragic.


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[…] Judge Robert Bork to the Supreme Court. As Roll Call reports, however another part of his resume ultimately scuttled his nomination: Mark Gitenstein, the top choice to head the Justice Department office that oversees legal policy […]

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