LEE RUDOFSKY: Headed to federal bench?

Donald Trump and the Republican Senate have speedily delivered huge numbers of extremist federal judges in two years, making all the more noticeable a lag in filling the opening on the federal Eastern District Court bench created by Judge Leon Holmes’ retirement March 31, 2018, almost a year ago. Difficulties in clearing candidates have led now, the rumors go, to the choice of something of an outsider.

A couple of people who’ve followed the process now point to Lee Rudofsky as a possible nominee for the slot. Rudofsky was hired in 2015 by Attorney General Leslie Rutledge as solicitor general, or lead appellate lawyer. A New York native whose career included federal judge clerkships and practice in Washington, he  went to her office after a short stint at Walmart. He came with sterling Republican and Federalist Society credentials, in line with many of Trump’s judicial employees.  He returned to Walmart in July to be senior director of the corporation’s anti-corruption legal team.


Federal judicial appointments are highly political and typically controlled by a state’s senators, who reward friends and the politically connected. But the White House vetting process sometimes presents obstacles. Now reportedly under consideration is someone with fairly shallow Arkansas roots (only five years in the state).

Rudofsky won’t present political problems on the Republican side. Among others, he led Rutledge efforts to tear down clean air law and strip Planned Parenthood of Medicaid funding. His past did include once signing a brief in support of same-sex marriage, so there’s that on the negative side from a Republican point of view.  A key resume point is his service to Rutledge, a frequent defender of Donald Trump on cable TV talk shows.


Rudofsky apparently entered the mix after other candidates fell by the wayside. They included Chad Pekron, a Little Rock lawyer; Supreme Court Justice Rhonda Wood; Circuit Judge Troy Braswell of Conway and, if frightening rumors are to be believed, even Supreme Court Justice Shawn Womack.