President Biden has taken the throne as the king of getting people into positions they are not qualified for. Either he just doesn’t look at their credentials, or he doesn’t vet them before putting them in their new position. Thankfully for the American people, many of these positions need to have the nominee thoroughly vetted and approved for the position before they can assume the duties and responsibilities.
Jessica Clarke has the distinction of being the latest to fall into this trap. As President Biden’s nominee to serve as the U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of New York, she would have numerous big case responsibilities. As a U.S. District Judge, you need to have a very comprehensive understanding of the laws of the land and how they apply to everyday people across this great land of ours.
Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) takes these kinds of nominations very seriously. He wants to ensure Americans are getting the best and the most knowledgeable person for the job. As this district has a lot of financial interests and financial cases, it would be prudent to know financial law. Sen. Kennedy chose to ask her specifically about the Securities and Exchange Commissions Rule 10b-5 – a rule that has very deep implications and a great history to it. Yet, she knew nothing.
“That’s a rule that deals with fraud. I have not litigated a securities matter. If I were to confront one, I would thoroughly research Second Circuit and Supreme Court precedent, and I would apply the law to the facts.” Clarke does not realize that she needs to have a basic understanding of this for the position. She does not know the basic rules of the law she is to enforce; then, her research would yield only a basic understanding even then.
When judges are to try cases, they often do days and weeks of trial law research. They want to ensure that they know proper precedent and other facts of the law before they are to make decisions on them. This means during obscure case references they will need to research for those points at that time. The basics should already be known by heart.
As Sen. Kennedy pushed her on the issue, she maintained her ignorance on the subject. “Thank you again for the question, Senator. I regularly confront new issues of law in my practice, and when I do, I thoroughly research the issue.” Ultimately, she had no clue, then, and likely has no clue about the rule today. This is not someone who belongs in hearing trials. This is not someone you would want to make mistakes in your case as she makes decisions on some of the largest financial cases in the country.
The Southern District of New York (SDNY) is made up of the boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx in New York City. Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, and Westchester counties are also a part of this district. That means the epicenter of banking and Wall Street are squarely located within its control. Financial laws like Rule 10b-5 are incredibly crucial for a judge to know thoroughly. They have to ensure that they can apply the law properly by having a firm understanding of it.
These financial cases often deal with billions and trillions of dollars. They can total more than the gross domestic product of many nations. At their roots they keep this country moving forward. Yet, people like President Biden keep pushing people like Jessica Clarke into these positions where they can make ill-advised and improper decisions on a daily basis. He is slowly but surely aiming to make us a nation to be mocked instead of a nation to be emulated.