Principal Deputy Solicitor General Ian Gershengorn Told President Clinton that Judge Breyer Was A “Rather Cold Fish”

June 6th, 2014

From the most recent dump from the Clinton archives, we get this gem prior to Clinton’s decision to nominate RBG.

White House vetters delivered elaborate comparisons between then-appeals court judges Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer as Clinton considered which should be his first nominee to the Supreme Court. Obviously, Ginsburg won that contest.

“Judge Ginsburg’s work has more of the humanity that the President highly values and fewer of the negative aspects that will cause concern among some constituencies,” Joel Klein wrote to Clinton’s counsel Bernard Nussbaum a week before Clinton nominated Ginsburg in a Rose Garden ceremony.

Klein thought Breyer was “brilliant,” but others were not as impressed.  “Nothing in Judge Breyer’s opinions suggests that he would be a great Supreme Court justice,” wrote Tom Perrilli and Ian Gershengorn, who called him a “rather cold fish.”

Perrilli later served as deputy attorney general in the Obama administration and Gershengorn is currently  Principal Deputy Solicitor General, arguing regularly before the Supreme Court.

Breyer was nominated to the court in 1994.

Poor Justice Breyer.  I suspect Breyer may rib Gerhsengorn, just a bit, during his next argument.

A previous memo suggested that two days before Clinton selected Breyer, “he did not want to name Breyer” to the high court.

I should note that Gershengorn also litigated all of the Obamacare cases in the district courts.


H/T Rick Hasen