Recent Bush Appointees

Judicature, May/June 2005 | Go to article overview

Recent Bush Appointees


Below are biographical sketches of a sample of the Bush appointees to the federal district and appeals courts in 2003 and 2004. There were many to choose from; those profiled here are representative of the high-quality nominees confirmed by the 108th Congress. All of them, along with numerous other appointees not profiled, were rated "well qualified" by a unanimous vote of the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Federal Judiciary.

At the outset, mention must be made of an extraordinary appointee, H. Brent McKnight, who died from cancer at the age of 52 on November 27, 2004, after serving on the federal district bench for the Western District of North Carolina for only about 16 months after being confirmed by the Senate of the 108th Congress. Judge McKnight was a former Rhodes Scholar who earned an advanced degree from Oxford and completed his course work for a doctorate in philosophy at the University of North Carolina but transferred to the law school to follow his true calling. Judge McKnight spent his professional career in the public service and for about a decade before ascending the federal district bench served as a U.S. Magistrate Judge.

William Duane Benton, born in Springfield, Missouri, received his undergraduate education at Northwestern and his legal training at Yale Law School, where he was managing editor of the Yale Law Journal. He also earned an M.B.A. from Memphis University, a master's degree in law from Virginia, and a C.RA. certificate. He was campaign manager for Republican Wendell Bailey's successful run for U.S. Representative in 1980 and served as administrative assistant to Representative Bailey from 1981 to 1982. He returned to Missouri and was in private practice, but also served as a Republican committeeman and attorney for the Missouri Republican Party. In 1991 he became a judge on the Supreme Court of Missouri and from 1997 to 1999 served as chief justice. He was elevated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in 2004.

J. Daniel Breen was born in Tennessee and graduated from a small liberal arts college in Alabama and the University of Tennessee School of Law. He was a politically active Republican whose activities included serving as Madison County Finance Chair for George Bush for President in 1988. In 1991, he became a U.S. Magistrate Judge, the position from which he was promoted to the federal district bench for the Western District of Tennessee.

James 0. Browning, born in Texas, received his undergraduate education at Yale and his law school training at the University of Virginia School of Law, where he served as editor-in-chief of the Virginia Law Review. Upon graduation, he clerked for a federal appeals judge before becoming a law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr. He did a stint in New Mexico as state deputy attorney general and from 1990 until ascending the New Mexico federal district bench was a named partner in a relatively small but highly regarded Albuquerque law firm. He was listed in Best Lawyers in America. A Federalist Society member, he was also politically active, serving as co-chair of New Mexico Lawyers for Bush-Cheney in 2000 and as a member of the Executive Finance Committee of Senator Pete Dominici's senatorial reelection campaign in 2002.

David G. Campbell, born in Salt Lake City, graduated from the University of Utah with both an undergraduate and law school degree. He was an editor of the Utah Law Review. After law school, he had a clerkship with a federal appeals court judge and subsequently another law clerk position for then-associate Supreme Court Justice William H. Rehnquist. He eventually settled in Arizona and was a member of a noted Phoenix law firm, earning mention in the Best Lawyers in America series. A Republican, he was Senator Kyl's choice for the U. S. District Court for Arizona.

Marcia G. Cooke was born in Sumter, South Carolina, did her undergraduate work at Georgetown, and then received her legal education at Wayne State. …

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