President Donald Trump has announced nominees for two of the four current vacancies on U.S. appeals courts, where the vacancy rate is already at a 35-year low.
Trump last week announced his intention to nominate Danielle J. Hunsaker of Oregon to serve on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers most Western states.
The president also announced he will nominate William J. Nardini to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York.
The remaining vacancies include another seat on the 2nd Circuit and one on the 5th Circuit.
“The administration has really been on the ball when it comes to filling appeals court vacancies,” Thomas Jipping, deputy director of the Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation, said of the Aug. 28 announcements. “We have the fewest appeals court vacancies since 1984.”
Hunsaker, currently the presiding judge on the Washington County Circuit Court of Oregon, has been a judge since 2017. She was previously a partner at the law firm of Larkins, Vacura, Kayser LLP in Portland, Oregon, a practice that focused on federal appeals.
Hunsaker was also an adjunct professor at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland from 2011 to 2016, teaching advanced civil procedure. She was a law clerk for 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Paul J. Kelly Jr. and U.S. District Court Judge Michael W. Mosman in Oregon. She subsequently clerked for 9th Circuit Judge Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain.
Hunsaker is a graduate of the University of Idaho College of Law and was the lead articles editor of the Idaho Law Review.
Trump and a Republican-controlled Senate have moved quickly on judicial nominations. The president’s appointments have brought balance to the 9th Circuit, a jurisdiction with a reputation for liberal rulings that has long been a source of frustration for conservatives. It is among the most overturned circuits on appeal.
Trump has earned an 87.8% confirmation rate for his appeals court nominees, according to The Heritage Foundation’s Judicial Tracker.
Nardini is currently an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Connecticut and is chief of the Criminal Division.
He clerked for then-Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and is a graduate of Yale Law School, where he served as executive editor of the Yale Law Journal.
“Bill Nardini is an excellent choice for the open seat on the Second Circuit. Bill and I worked together at the United States Attorney’s Office in New Haven for eight years,” John Marrella, former U.S. deputy assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Tax Division, said in a prepared statement.
Nardini also serves on the Criminal Chiefs Working Group of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee in the Justice Department and on the Advisory Committee for Local Rules of the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut.
“He is a highly effective trial attorney and a superior appellate advocate, with almost 20 years of prosecutorial experience,” Marrella said. “He has a first-rate temperament and an outstanding legal mind. Throughout his career, Bill has demonstrated a commitment to the Constitution and the rule of law. In addition to his stellar professional qualifications, he is a man of great personal virtue and probity.”
Nardini served as the Justice Department attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Rome from 2010 to 2014. He was a law clerk to federal Judges Jose A. Cabranes and Guido Calabresi, both of the 2nd Circuit.
Carol Platt Liebau, president of the Yankee Institute for Public Policy, a think tank in Hartford, Connecticut, that supports free markets and limited government, praised the Nardini nomination.
“William Nardini is a splendid nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, combining outstanding credentials with a clear commitment to constitutionalist jurisprudence and the rule of law,” Liebau said in a written statement. “We would be fortunate to have someone of his caliber on the federal bench.”