The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

Vote Yes on Cloture: Confirm Paul Watford to the Ninth Circuit

Advocacy Letter - 05/21/12

Source: The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Recipient: U.S. Senate

Dear Senator:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of more than 210 national organizations, we write to express our strong support for the confirmation of Paul Watford to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Mr. Watford’s stellar background, his keen intellect, his commitment to fairness, and his utmost respect for the Constitution and the rule of law all make him an ideal candidate. We urge the Senate to vote “yes” on cloture and “yes” on his confirmation.

Mr. Watford’s credentials are truly outstanding. He graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1989, and the UCLA School of Law in 1994, where he served as an editor of the school’s law review and was named to the prestigious Order of the Coif. Following law school, Mr. Watford served as a law clerk to Judge Alex Kozinski of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit from 1994-1995, and in the following year he served as a law clerk to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the U.S. Supreme Court. After a brief stint in private practice, at the firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson, Mr. Watford went on to serve for several years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles, where he was a member of the Major Frauds Section in the office’s Criminal Division. He eventually returned to the Munger firm, where he became a partner in 2003, and where he specializes in appellate litigation on a wide range of legal issues. He also spent several years teaching Judicial Opinion Writing at the University of Southern California’s Gould School of Law.

Given his experience, and the manner in which he has conducted himself throughout his career, it is no wonder that Mr. Watford's nomination has garnered strong support, from across the political and philosophical spectrum, among those who know him best. Thirty-two of his fellow Supreme Court law clerks from the 1995-1996 term, who served for every Justice on the Court at the time, praised his “powerful analytical abilities, a readiness to listen to and consider fairly all points of view, a calm temperament, and a prodigious work ethic.” UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh, who identifies as a moderate-conservative Republican, wrote that Mr. Watford “has all the qualities that an appellate judge ought to have: intellectual brilliance, thoughtfulness, fairness, collegiality, an ability to deal civilly and productively with colleagues of all political stripes, and a deep capacity for hard work.” Professor Volokh strongly endorsed Mr. Watford despite the fact that “there would be some future decisions of his with which I will disagree.” Henry Weissmann, a colleague of Mr. Watford and a past president of the Los Angeles chapter of the Federalist Society, has stated that he has “never seen any hint of politics in Mr. Watford's lawyering.”

The Leadership Conference is confident that Mr. Watford will take a highly thoughtful approach to difficult issues, carefully analyzing all sides of arguments, and reaching conclusions based on well-established law rather than political ideology. While our organizations are not likely to agree in every case with the positions that he will take, we have no doubt that he will display the highest possible levels of intellectual honesty, independent thinking, and commitment to fairness – meaning that he will ensure that litigants before him will feel certain, regardless of the outcome, that they were given a fair day in court.

We urge you to support cloture on, and confirmation of, Paul Watford’s nomination to the Ninth Circuit. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact either of us or Senior Counsel Rob Randhava at (202) 466-3311.


Wade Henderson
President & CEO

Nancy Zirkin
Executive Vice President

Our Members