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Of Pete Williams
WASHINGTON – The US Supreme Court on Monday rejected a challenge for the appointment of Matt Whitaker as attorney general.
President Donald Trump appointed him on November 7, shortly after attorney general Jeff Sessions announced he would abandon the president's request. Whitaker had been the head of Sessions staff.
The opponents of his nomination said they were not qualified for the position because he was not subject to confirmation by the Senate. Their vehicle for the challenge was a pending lawsuit against the US Attorney General, which was Sessions when the case was presented in June. The challengers asked the judges to decide that the name on the case should be changed to Rod Rosenstein, who said that he is in fact the acting attorney general.
The Supreme Court case was originally brought by a Nevada man, Barry Michaels, who asked the judges to decide that the right to possess a weapon should not be taken away by someone convicted of certain non-violent crimes.
On Monday, in a short order, the court denied the motion to remove Whitaker's name from the case and also said he would not hear the Michaels gun case.
A similar challenge to Whitaker's appointment is pending in federal court in Maryland.
The Trump administration vigorously defended Whitaker's appointment. An opinion from the Justice Department's Legal Advisory Office stated that the government identified over 160 times the history of the United States when presidents appointed non-confirmed government officials from the Senate to serve in senior positions. In recent years, according to the opinion, the appointments were made by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
The opinion stated that while the courts declared that the Constitution requires that the chief officers be confirmed by the Senate, "it does not follow that the deputy general Attorney should be understood as one", because the person appointed to serve in that dress is not in a "permanent and permanent" position.