Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski rejected calls to cancel the event, but has said no meeting will be held in 2013 to save money. Kozinski, in short remarks before Kennedy spoke, said the circuit was under attack and that the profession shouldnt be shy about speaking about the benefits of such meetings.
Kozinski was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1985. Kennedy was appointed to the 9th Circuit by President Gerald Ford in 1975 and to the Supreme Court by President Reagan in 1988.
Kennedy urged organizers to use the 24 months before the next conference to prepare diligently and suggested three possible topics. He said caseloads have become a problem for federal judges, citing a three-fold increase for 9th Circuit judges since he left for the Supreme Court.
He also said the American model of three-year graduate law schools should be examined in light of the fact that most of the world doesnt use the same system, citing Canada, Japan and South Africa as the others with three-year programs.
Finally, he raised a topic that he said required considerable delicacy but said it must be discussed: the partisan politics of Senate confirmation of life-termed federal judges. Kennedy said the Senate has a proper role to carefully consider nominees, but that the system is now broken.
Theres a difference in a political function and a partisan function, Kennedy said. The current climate is one in which highly qualified, eminent practitioners of the law simply do not want to subject themselves to this process. And I think its incumbent on members of this conference, particularly members of the bar, to face the fact that they have the responsibility to ensure that this appointment and selection and confirmation process is done without the partisan intensity that now accompanies it. This is bad for the legal system. It makes the judiciary look politicized when it is not, and it has to stop.