A Covington & Burling partner and former clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas sailed through his confirmation hearing Thursday for a seat on the U.S. Tax Court, facing few questions as he was praised for his “talent” and eagerness to enter public service.
The nominee, Emin Toro, appearing before the Senate Finance Committee, has practiced tax law for 16 years. He said he has represented clients in disputes with the Internal Revenue Service and advocated for them before the Tax Court, where he would serve a 15-year term if he is confirmed.
Toro works with multinational companies on tax controversies, litigation, administrative matters and audits. Toro was on the Covington team that advised Bacardi Ltd. in its acquisition of Patrón Spirits International AG.
“I’ve been having a lot of fun practicing tax law and helping taxpayers comply with their obligations and get good resolutions with the government and resolve disputes,” said Toro, who was promoted to partner in 2008. “I would bring that mindset to the new job, if confirmed.”
Toro clerked for Thomas during the 2002-2003 Supreme Court term. His co-clerks that term were Victoria Dorfman, now a Jones Day partner in Washington; Adam Mortara, a partner at Bartlit Beck in Chicago; and David Stras, formerly a justice on the Minnesota Supreme Court who was confirmed last year to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.
Toro earlier clerked for Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson on the D.C. Circuit. Henderson attended Toro’s confirmation hearing Thursday. Toro mentioned both Henderson and Thomas in his opening remarks as individuals who helped support his development in the law. Chief Judge Maurice Foley of the Tax Court was also in attendance.
“Legal practice and service in the community have taught me that usually there are two sides to every dispute and that wise decisions require careful listening, thorough evaluation, impartial judgment, and fairness,” Toro said in his prepared statement. “My work at Covington and while clerking has also instilled in me a deep commitment to collegiality.”
Toro is one of two Covington lawyers nominated by the Trump administration for court seats. Richard Hertling, a lobbyist who has served as of counsel to the firm since 2013, was picked last year for a spot on the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.
Another Trump nominee to the Tax Court, Courtney Dunbar Jones, is awaiting a confirmation vote. The former Caplin & Drysdale attorney serves as a senior attorney in the Internal Revenue Service’s general counsel office.