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Edith (Joy) Clement

Speculation is running rampant that at a 9 pm press conference tonight, President Bush will announce Edith (Joy) Clement as his nominee to replace Justice O'Connor on the U.S. Supreme Court. Clement is a 2001 appointee to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans who had previously served for ten years as a U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Louisiana. Born in 1948, Judge Clement also had over 15 years' private law practice prior to her appointment to the bench.

Various blogs are already collecting information on Judge Clement's record, notably The Supreme Court Nomination Blog, where Tom Goldstein has already listed a number of her notable appellate decisions (to be a rolling list). A couple of items caught my eye:

Bratcher v. Nat'l Standard Life Ins. Co. (In re Monumental Life Ins. Co.), 365 F.3d 408 (5th Cir. 2004) (dissenting from panel decision authorizing class action to challenge racial discrimination in sale of life insurance policies).

Blanks v. Southwestern Bell Communs., Inc., 310 F.3d 398 (5th Cir. 2002) (finding that plaintiff's HIV was not a disability within the meaning of the ADA, even though HIV was a physical impairment, because plaintiff had not established the requisite interference with a major life activity).

For those interested in liability issues, these two opinions would, at first blush, offer promise, because they suggest that Judge Clement has a fairly tight view of class certification standards and employment discrimination claims. (For my own critique of large employment discrimination class actions, see my discussion of the Wal-Mart gender discrimination class last July.)

An earlier post on The Supreme Court Nomination Blog also points us to Judge Clement's majority opinion in Vogler v. Blackmore, 352 F.3d 150 (5th Cir. 2003), "reducing a jury verdict for pain and suffering damages to the estates of a mother and three-year old daughter killed when an eighteen-wheel tractor trailer crossed the highway center-line and ran over their car. The damages to the mother were reduced from $200,000 to $30,000 and the pain and suffering award for the daughter was eliminated entirely based on the lack of specific evidence about the daughter's 'awareness of the impending collision.'"

On first blush, then, from the perspective of those interested in civil justice reform, Judge Clement seems quite a solid pick.



Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.