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Stephanos Bibas Makes it to the 3rd Circuit

By William Vogeler, Esq. on November 06, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Justice Stephanos Bibas made it to the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals by a Senate vote of 53-43.

He won largely along party lines with only one Democrat crossing the aisle to vote for the Republican nominee. It was close during a week when four judges were confirmed to federal appeals courts.

Critics said Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was rushing the process. But for Bibas, who has never been a judge, it was still a win.

"Superbly Qualified"

Bibas has spent most of his career in academia. A 1994 graduate of Yale Law School, he clerked two years for federal courts and practiced law for four years.

In 2000, he became a research fellow and a professor a year later. After five years at the University of Iowa College of Law, he went to the University of Pennsylvania School of Law.

In a letter to the Judiciary Committee, 121 professors praised Bibas as "superbly qualified" to serve as a federal appellate judge. They noted his "influential contributions" to criminal law and procedure.

"His fair-mindedness, conscientiousness, and personal integrity are beyond question," they said. "We have no doubt that his judicial temperament will reflect these qualities and that he will faithfully discharge his duty to apply the law fairly and even-handedly in all matters before him."

"Not Qualified"

His experience before the Senate was much better for him than for Leonard Steven Grasz, who was nominated to the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. He was grilled by Judiciary Committee members after the American Bar Association deemed Grasz "not qualified."

"I assume you're keenly aware that you are the first Circuit Court nominee since 2006 to receive a unanimous 'not qualified' rating from the ABA?" Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse asked. "And that the last nominee who had such a rating was withdrawn?"

In a week when the Republicans made a run on the Democrats in the Senate, Grasz may be the one who doesn't get away with a confirmation.

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