Andrew Ferguson, a former Bancroft associate and clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas, has been named chief counsel for nominations on the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he will be a key adviser as the Trump administration and Republicans plan to continue their breakneck pace confirming judges to the federal bench.
Ferguson’s new role coincides with the ascension of U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, to the committee’s chairmanship. Last year, Ferguson was on the team advising the Republican-led Judiciary Committee as it elevated Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. The committee has played a central role in pushing the confirmations of more than 80 federal trial and appellate judges onto the bench.
Ferguson was not immediately reached for comment Wednesday. He succeeds Mike Davis, a former clerk for Justice Neil Gorsuch, who held the chief counsel role under U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley’s tenure atop the Judiciary Committee. Grassley relinquished the Judiciary Committee chairmanship this year to head the Senate Finance Committee.
Davis, who clerked for Justice Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court and, earlier, on the Tenth Circuit, declined to comment Wednesday about the next steps in his career. Davis was managing a two-lawyer firm in Denver when Gorsuch asked Davis to clerk for him again on the high court.
“Andrew is a star. He clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas,” Davis said. “He is an incredibly hard worker. And he has the experience on the committee already from being a key member of Chairman Grassley’s team during Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation.”
Davis was Grassley’s lead adviser during the nomination of Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Davis coordinated with Democratic staff and outside counsel as the hearings turned explosive amid claims the nominee years ago sexually assaulted a fellow high school teenager in suburban Maryland. Kavanaugh was confirmed by the narrowest margin in modern history.
Graham played prominently during the Kavanaugh proceedings, at one point lashing out at Democrats and accusing them of trying to “destroy” the nominee’s life. Graham described the Democrats’ handling of the allegations as the “most despicable thing I have seen in my time in politics.”
At the confirmation hearing for Bill Barr, President Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general, Graham said he hoped to work in a bipartisan fashion—as “immigration Lindsey,” a reference to his past work with Democrats on a compromise immigration reform bill. “But the other guy’s in there too,” he cautioned, “and I don’t like him any more than you do.”
Ferguson formerly was an associate at the Washington-based litigation boutique Bancroft focusing on appellate law. (Kirkland & Ellis acquired Bancroft in 2016.) Earlier, Ferguson practiced antitrust and competition at Covington & Burling, according to a profile of him at his alma mater University of Virginia School of Law. Ferguson is a 2012 graduate.
Ferguson clerked for Thomas during the 2016 term, with Kirkland & Ellis partner Kasdin Mitchell, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher associate Jacob Spencer and Sullivan & Cromwell associate Austin Raynor also serving in the justice’s chambers. Raynor graduated from University of Virginia School of Law in 2013.
Earlier, Ferguson was a clerk to Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. “Judge Henderson is a deeply thoughtful judge and writer, and an incomparable mentor,” Ferguson told UVA law’s paper in 2016.
Tony Mauro contributed reporting from Washington.