The National Law Journal reported Monday on a small Republican "fan club" at Sidley Austin for Virginia Seitz, a partner there who is President Barack Obama's choice for a top Justice Department post.
Add another like-minded conservative to the group in Jones Day partner Glen Nager.
Though Nager (pictured above) and Seitz don’t have the same political views, he said they’ve become friends since they were appointed as founding members of a congressional board in 1995. Nager said he supports her bid to head DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel, which hasn’t had a Senate-confirmed leader since Jack Goldsmith, now a Harvard Law School professor, left in 2004. The office has been at the center of the national debate on interrogation methods for terrorism suspects.
“I think she’s an excellent choice as a nominee for that office,” Nager said in an interview. “She’s a very smart, very thoughtful, very virtuous individual.”
What reaction there’s been to Seitz’s nomination has been positive since Obama named her on Jan 5. Sidley Austin partners who are in her corner include Peter Keisler, a former acting attorney general nominated by President George W. Bush for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and Bradford Berenson, former associate counsel in the Bush White House.
Nager and Seitz were appointed in 1995 to the five-member board of the congressional Office of Compliance. That year’s new Republican congressional majorities created the office as part of an effort to apply workplace laws to Congress, which had previously been exempt. The board was charged with hiring staff and writing rules.
“We were picked for probably very different reasons, and we came from very different backgrounds,” said Nager, who was the board’s chairman. He was an employment lawyer with management-side experience, while Seitz was a labor-side lawyer at the time with Bredhoff & Kaiser. While they sometimes wrote competing opinions in cases before the board, Nager said, “They were always very respectful disagreements.”
Both lawyers specialize in appellate work, and Nager, who heads Jones Day’s appellate practice, said they sometimes cross paths professionally. He has referred work to her, while she has moot-courted Nager ahead of important oral arguments. (Like Keisler, Nager was considered during the Bush administration for nomination to the D.C. Circuit, but Nager was not selected.)
Because the Office of Legal Counsel advises the executive branch on interpreting laws and the Constitution, a key question for nominees is always whether they can resist political pressure. Nager said that’s not an issue for Seitz. “She will hold her own in any discussion,” he said. “She’s no one’s lackey.”
Photo by Roberto Westbrook.