You heard it here March 18: A relative Arkansas newcomer, Lee Rudofsky, has landed Donald Trump’s nomination to fill the eastern district federal judeship vacated by Leon Holmes’ retirement in March 2018.

Rudofsky, after a short stint at Walmart, moved in 2015 to be Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s top litigator.  He returned to Walmart in July to be senior director of the corporation’s anti-corruption legal team.

The White House announced his nomination this way:


Lee Rudofsky is Senior Director for Global Anti-Corruption Compliance at Walmart Inc. Before joining Walmart, Mr. Rudofsky served as Solicitor General of Arkansas, representing the State of Arkansas in Federal and State court, including the United States Supreme Court, Arkansas Supreme Court, and Federal district courts. Earlier in his career, Mr. Rudofsky was in private practice at Kirkland & Ellis, LLP, where his practice focused on constitutional, environmental, and complex commercial matters. Mr. Rudofsky served as a law clerk to Judge Andrew Kleinfeld on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and to Justice Robert Cordy of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. Mr. Rudofsky earned his B.S. from Cornell University, his M.P.A. from the Cornell Institute of Public Affairs, and his J.D. from Harvard Law School.

There was much political dickering on this appointment. At least four other Arkansas lawyers had powerful support for the position but fell by the wayside for personal issues or perhaps disagreement between the senators on the choice. These include Supreme Court Justice Rhonda Wood, Circuit Judge Troy Braswell and Little Rock lawyer Chad Pekron and at least one other judge. Sen. John Boozman, as the senior senator, is thought to enjoy some preference over Sen. Tom Cotton in the process of approving nominees, but Cotton has been a strong Trump supporter.

Rudofsky is solid ideologically, as evidenced by his work for Rutledge — anti-abortion, anti-government regulation and so on. He’s a member of the Federalist Society, of course. Having talked with some of his adversaries in these cases, I can say that he’s considered intellectually better qualified than some of the political hatchet men Trump has nominated for some other district judgeships around the country. In a sense, that can be worse — ultra-conservative AND smart.

We could hope that Rudofsky will follow in the footsteps of Leon Holmes. A veteran of the anti-abortion cause in Arkansas, Holmes disqualified from those cases because of past participation. But, though a Republican nominee, he won praise over the years for scrupulous fairness.

Rudofsky’s Senate confirmation will be speedy.

Jerry Cox of the Family Council just cheered Rudofsky’s nomination. That’s as uplifting as Rutledge’s similar kudos for the pick. She lauded his effort to kill the Medicaid expansion in Arkansas and speed the state’s efforts to execute people.