NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal judge who called out President Barack Obama for saying it would be "unprecedented" for the Supreme Court to strike down a law like his administration's health care overhaul is a conservative voice on what may be the nation's most conservative appeals court.
But those who know Judge Jerry E. Smith from his years on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
in New Orleans and earlier days in Texas politics paint a more complex
portrait of someone who isn't bound by conservative ideology or afraid
to buck the Republican party line.
takes his judicial responsibilities very seriously and is very careful
to stay out of any political controversy," said Ilya Somin, a George Mason University law professor who clerked for Smith in 2001 and 2002.
said Smith is so careful to remain impartial that he refused to
recommend restaurants worth visiting in Houston and New Orleans during a
2003 interview with a blogger. The blogger, Howard Bashman, quoted
Smith as saying "it might be improper for a judge publicly to endorse a
particular commercial establishment."
Although Smith was a Republican party activist in Texas before President Ronald Reagan
nominated him for a seat on the 5th Circuit in 1987, Somin and other
former clerks say they never saw any evidence that politics factored
into his work on the appeals court.
Stephen Henderson, a University of Oklahoma
law professor who clerked for Smith in 1999 and 2000, described him as a
brilliant jurist and warm man who embodies "what every appellate judge
should aspire to be."
Smith is not about grandstanding. If he asks a question from the bench,
it's an honest question," Henderson said. "Judge Smith has no control
over whether others turn a court order into a political football. If he
asks a question, it's because he wants to know the answer." (Continues)http://www.seattlepi.com/news/article/Allies-Judge-upset-by-Obama-remarks-not-political-3464607.php#page-1