Every Friday, we choose an alum who has been making headlines—for better or for worse.
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Cornelia Pillard ’83:
pillar or pilloried?

President Barack Obama simultaneously nominated Cornelia “Nina” Pillard ’83 and two other prospective judges to a high federal court last month in an effort to break a Senate confirmation logjam. Instead, Pillard may find herself headed for the Republican sawmill.

A professor at Georgetown Law and a former litigator with the ACLU, the NAACP, and the Clinton administration, Pillard was predicted to be the most controversial of Obama’s trio of nominees for the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, often considered the nation’s second-most important court.

The liberal website Think Progress sees “striking” parallels with the career of US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, declaring: “beyond Justice Ginsburg heself, few lawyers have done more to advance the cause of women’s equality than Nina Pillard.” Conservative commentators call her “radical,” “disingenuous,” and “a complete ideologue.”

At Pillard’s confirmation hearing July 24, “Republican senators grilled” her about her academic writing “on topics such as abortion, abstinence-only education and constitutional rights of churches and doctors,” Legal Times reports.

Senate Republicans don’t want to confirm any of Obama’s three nominees, arguing that the DC Circuit’s workload does not warrant any additional judges. Given that backdrop, Legal Times says, “Pillard’s nomination looks the most vulnerable to being left behind in any Senate deal to win confirmation votes for the appeals court.”

Filed under Cornelia Pillard, Court of Appeals
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