Sen. Arlen Specter, R.-Pa., announced on Tuesday that he has sent letters to the three presidential candidates asking for their position on his motion to discharge judicial nominees from the Senate Judiciary Committee, where they have been languishing.
AmericanLawyer.com was intrigued by one nominee: Peter Keisler, a partner at Sidley Austin who is up for a spot on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Keisler served as acting attorney general after Alberto Gonzales resigned under pressure. Prior to that, his positions included a trio of top jobs at the Justice Department: principal deputy associate attorney general, acting associate attorney general and assistant attorney general for the civil division.
Keisler was nominated by President George Bush to the D.C. Circuit in June 2006. But he doesn't appear to be holding his breath for the Senate's blessing. Last month Keisler rejoined Sidley, where he worked before leaving for the Justice Department in 2002. Sidley doesn't seem to have much confidence in Keisler's nomination, either: It promptly named the D.C. veteran "global coordinator" of its appellate practice.
Keisler did not return a call seeking comment, but Carter Phillips, managing partner of Sidley's Washington, D.C. office, says that Keisler's move to rejoin Sidley was "in no way an act of surrender" on his part. Phillips acknowledges that "time is certainly not on [Keisler's] side," but that the firm is hoping Keisler is confirmed. Phillips also stated that Keisler's situation has not been an impediment to his relationship with clients.
"The truth is, like in most big law firms, you tend to operate in teams here," says Phillips. "All the clients know that Peter has been nominated, and they'll evaluate the risk for themselves."