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Kathryn Kimball Mizelle: The Florida federal judge who blocked Biden’s travel mask warrant


A little-known federal judge appointed by former President Donald Trump found himself in the national spotlight on Monday after overturning the Biden administration’s public transportation mask mandate.

U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle has served as a federal judge in Florida for more than a year. Notably, the Senate vote confirming her to the lifetime appointment came in mid-November 2020, after the presidential election. She had been given an “unqualified” rating by the American Bar Association, based on her limited amount of experience after law school.

See airline passengers throw away masks as mandate is revoked

Born in Lakeland, Florida in 1987, Mizelle earned a law degree from the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law in 2012, after completing her undergraduate degree at Covenant College, a Christian liberal arts college. in Georgia.

Before becoming a judge, she was a partner at the Jones Day law firm in Washington, DC, and an assistant law professor at her alma mater. Mizelle has held four federal internships throughout her career, including one with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas from 2018 to 2019.

From 2017 to 2018, she served as an adviser to one of the Justice Department’s third-tier officials, then Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand, where she oversaw the tax division and led the administration’s efforts to promote freedom. of expression on university campuses.

She spent about three years as a trial attorney for the Justice Department’s Tax Division, where she prosecuted white-collar crimes, and before that she served as the United States Special Assistant District Attorney. Eastern Virginia for a year, she told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

According to the American Bar Association, the two instances she attempted to reach a verdict were when she said she was a certified legal intern for the Florida State Attorney’s Office and was still at law School.

A member of the Federalist Society, Mizelle, then 33, was nominated by Trump in early September 2020, in a confirmation without any support from then-minority Senate Democrats.

See Dr. Gupta’s reaction to the judge ending the mask warrant

During her Senate hearing that month, Mizelle was pressed by Democrats about her lack of experience and other issues such as an amicus brief she filed while in cabinet. private, on behalf of clients to support the Department of Labor’s decision not to issue mandatory security. rules to protect workers from contracting Covid-19.

Mizelle was also asked about John Eastman – who then asked for ways to overturn the presidential election – who at the time was pushing a racist conspiracy theory that Vice President Kamala Harris may not be eligible for the role because his parents were immigrants. Mizelle said she disagreed with the opinions expressed by Eastman, who worked for the Claremont Institute, where Mizelle attended a week-long fellowship.

Mizelle was given an “unqualified” rating by the American Bar Association upon his appointment, due to his lack of experience – which is one of the primary goals of the ABA’s grading system.

“(A) candidate for the federal bench should normally have at least 12 years of experience practicing law,” the ABA said in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee in September 2020. The “Briefing Paper” of the ABA adds that “in assessing an applicant’s professional qualifications, the Standing Committee recognizes that substantial experience in courtrooms and trials as a trial attorney or judge is important.

While Mizelle was admitted to practice law in September 2012, the ABA notes that “a candidate’s limited experience may be offset by the breadth and depth of the candidate’s experience over the course of their career” . In this case, the ABA wrote, Mizelle had not tried a civil or criminal case as lead or co-counsel.

In its letter, the ABA said it was not questioning Mizelle’s character or future abilities. “Ms. Mizelle has a very keen intelligence, a strong work ethic and an impressive resume,” the letter reads. However, these attributes simply do not make up for the short time she has actually practiced law and her lack of significant trial experience.

Asked about the ABA’s letter in its Senate Judiciary Written Questionnaire, Mizelle wrote, “I don’t fully understand their methodology or why they failed to discuss my litigation as a federal prosecutor where I appeared and pleaded in federal district court.”

During her confirmation hearing, Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas asked Mizelle what she would tell litigants worried about her lack of experience.

“I would work myself to figure it out, to learn it quickly. I would bring all my energy and intensity to mastering the task at hand,” she said.

Mizelle was confirmed by the Senate in a 49-41 party line vote in November 2020. She was later sworn in by Thomas.

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