Responding to Sen. Orrin Hatch’s (R-Utah) demand that a federal judge retire before her son can be appointed to the same judicial circuit, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) complained to Hatch last week that his new policy on nepotism was unfair because many men have been allowed to serve with close male relatives. “To devise a new policy whose first application would be to a woman would be a serious mistake.” Hatch has also been accused by liberal advocacy groups of using family relationship to unseat one of the most progressive judges in the county.
Judge Betty B. Fletcher of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed last week to take senior status, a semi-retired position that would assign her to fewer cases, in order to comply with the demand from Hatch, chair of the Judiciary Committee. Fletcher is one of 29 women in the nation serving on an appeals court and is one of four women among the 25 Ninth Circuit court judges. Feinstein said Fletcher is a “shining example to women lawyers. The mother of four, she went to law school when women were not welcome in the profession.”