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Oct 19, 2018

Top Judiciary Dems: “Heritage Foundation’s ‘Federal Clerkship Training Academy’ is the latest effort by conservatives to undermine the impartiality of the federal judiciary.”

Washington, D.C. - Today, Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, and Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (D-GA), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet, issued a joint statement following disclosure by the New York Times of a secret training program for incoming federal law clerks by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank:

“We were disturbed to learn of the Heritage Foundation’s ‘Federal Clerkship Training Academy,’ the latest effort by conservatives to undermine the impartiality of the federal judiciary.

“It is particularly concerning that the program was cloaked in secrecy, from the undisclosed identity of the ‘generous donors’ financing the program, to the requirement that the participants pledge to keep the training materials secret and not to disclose what they learned ‘for any purpose contrary to the mission or interest of the Heritage Foundation.’  Given the fact that federal law clerks provide important research and legal analysis for the federal judges they are sworn to serve, they must be faithful to the law, not to ideological organizations to whom they have taken a loyalty pledge.

“We are also troubled that sitting federal judges were said to participate in the training academy as faculty.  Their participation in this secret program raises a host of ethical questions, and we hope that the federal judiciary will review the propriety of their involvement.

“We have already seen President Trump essentially outsource the process of selecting federal judges to ideologically driven organizations, like the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society, in an effort to pack the courts with judges who are beholden to an extreme conservative agenda.  Although we are pleased that the Heritage Foundation has now suspended the clerkship training academy — now that it has been brought to light — we must be vigilant to ensure that the federal judiciary remains a trusted institution in our democracy, free from political influence.”

115th Congress