Mimesis Law
2 July 2020

Judge Jane Kelly And True Diversity On The Supreme Court (VIDEO)

Feb. 17, 2016 (Mimesis Law) — If President Obama really wants diversity, he ought to nominate Judge Jane Kelly to the Supreme Court. Most of her professional life, before her unanimous confirmation to the Eight Circuit, was spent as a public defender. She became an assistant Federal Public Defender in the Northern District of Iowa in 1994, and served as the Supervising Attorney in the Cedar Rapids, Iowa office from 1999 to 2013.

Jane Kelly, during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Eighth Circuit. February 27, 2013. Photo by Diego M. Radzinschi/THE NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL.

Jane Kelly, during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Eighth Circuit. February 27, 2013. Photo by Diego M. Radzinschi/THE NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL.

She has all the qualifications, such as graduating with honors from Duke and from Harvard Law School. She was a Fulbright scholar. She clerked for a well-regarded district judge and with a highly respected conservative Circuit judge (and one of my favorite people).

She also has a compelling story. While serving as a public defender she was beaten nearly to death when an unknown assailant came up behind her while she was jogging and smashed her head and face with a rock. Her injuries were awful.

Two things of note: Her graduating class at Harvard included President Obama. Senator Grassley likes her too!

So, if the President wants true diversity, he ought to nominate a former public defender who has been in the trenches.

Richard G. Kopf
Senior United States District Judge (Nebraska)

11 Comments on this post.

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  • Gloria Wolk
    17 February 2016 at 2:42 pm - Reply

    This would be an astonishing addition to the Supreme Court, probably the first time ever that a justice had experience as a public defender. It would mean more balance to the court and its predilictions.

    Based on Judge Kopf’s description, Jane Kelly appears to be someone who would not find “finality” to be more important than innocence, and who would not condone over-sentencing. She might be able to educate former prosecutors and former law professors about the real world.

    • Richard G. Kopf
      18 February 2016 at 9:24 am - Reply


      Thanks for commenting. Setting aside her great academic achievements and experience as a law clerk to two federal judges, her personal life history as a longtime federal public defender AND a near death crime victim provides Judge Kelly with such a unique perspective that I am sure we would all benefit from her service as a Justice. All the best.


  • Agent Provocateur
    17 February 2016 at 5:33 pm - Reply

    As you have said, the Supreme Court is “the most dangerous branch.” An unelected and unaccountable super-legislature. Only mediocre ideologues will do.

    I vote Pam Karlan. Someone who, unlike federal judges, views the Bill of Rights as more than a dead letter. A flaming bi-sexual, who will make Grassley’s head explode.

    • Richard G. Kopf
      18 February 2016 at 9:19 am - Reply


      Your wonderful description of what would happen if Karlan was nominated made me laugh out loud this morning. How true! Just like the first Gulf War, her nomination would make for great TV.

      All the best.


  • Robin Phelan
    19 February 2016 at 6:39 pm - Reply

    True diversity would be someone who didn’t go to an Ivy League school and understand finance.

    • Richard Kopf
      20 February 2016 at 11:12 am - Reply


      I’m not a big Ivy League fan either. But, I don’t hold that too much against Judge Kelly since she grew up in Indiana, practiced all her life in Iowa, and, by all accounts, she is a regular person who does not put on airs. As for finance, I doubt that Judge Kelly is big on finance since her Fullbright scholar research (that produced various published scientific articles) dealt with body mass scores for children such as comparing scores for kids in New Zealand and the United States.

      All the best.


  • Ghost of Justice Scalia
    24 February 2016 at 7:40 am - Reply

    I nominate the following:

    Judge Posner from the 7th Circuit. I like his relaxed approach to white collar crime, he has written a few books and so on. I dont consider him a genius. He has a massive ego and is rude to lawyers that appear before him. His last few decisions have been awfully wonky. Also, he should give privacy rights a bit more weight and do more research on punishing sex offenders — registration and tagging is punishment, its not a joke).

    Second: Judge Richard Kopf. Mellow and balanced and is easily approachable — heck he maintained a candid blog. It doesn’t get better than that. But my only caveeat is he needs to let go of the Sentencing Guidelines as if they are a gospel from a democratically elected Commission. They are far too harsh and make us Americans look blood thirsty when compared to criminal penalties in the rest of the world. As for criticism of the democratic junk, see Justice Scalia’s dissent is Misretta or whatever that case was and what.

    If the first two fail, we should nominate the Ghost or Corpse of Michael Jackson. It would clear out all the crazies — judges and petitioners alike. And would give due deference to the Founder’s original intent.

    Yours truly,

    Ghost of Justice Scalia

    • Richard G. Kopf
      24 February 2016 at 3:16 pm - Reply

      Ghost of Justice Scalia,

      I appreciate your “nomination” of Judge Posner. I am also especially taken with the idea of nominating the corpse of Michael Jackson. As for me, and speaking of mellow, I bet you smoke weed on the hour, every hour–not that that’s a bad thing.

      All the best.


      PS The Guidelines are the gospel of the Devil, and that’s not a bad thing. The Devil scares the hell out of people, or so I am told.

      • Baked Ghost of Justice Scalia
        25 February 2016 at 1:13 pm - Reply

        Close, but no cigar! I can’t wait for every hour. I have a joint or a Marlboro break every 15 minutes. Sometimes I get lucky and high, on other occasions I just smell like tar. I surprise myself each time.

        Yours truly,

        Baked Ghost of Justice Scalia

  • The Supreme Court Could Use A Good Public Defender
    19 March 2016 at 8:22 pm - Reply

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    21 March 2016 at 11:52 am - Reply

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