Jusge Michael Mukasey, former chief of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, has been formally nominated by President Bush. He is likely to be an easy confirmation. Judge Mukasey has the reputation of being quite conservative on national security matters. He tended to give the government what it demanded in terms of sealing records, allowing ex parte communications, and upholding claims of presidential powers. After leaving the bench, he also endorsed the notion that the federal courts are not well-suited to handling terrorism cases, despite the fact that he handled the blind sheik case of Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman and part of the padilla case. He also allowed the abusive use of material witness detentions. Yet, on the other side, he ordered that Jose Padilla be given an attorney. All in all, he is less likely to adopt the extreme, no judicial review approach of this Administration. He has also ruled against the government in some cases, showing a degree of independence. However, he is likely to support programs like the NSA’s domestic surveillance program. Overall, he is a good choice for the Justice Department, which has lost a lot of credibility with judges across the country. As a former prosecutor and former judge, he is well-positioned to repair the extensive damage at the DOJ under the Bush Administration.
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