Affirmative action for FISC judges?
Is the selection of judges for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court based, in part, on their sex, race, or ethnicity? The question arises from newly released texts sent between Federal Bureau of Investigation agent Peter Strzok and FBI attorney Lisa Page.
Most attention to these texts is focused on their revelation of an apparent friendship between Strzok and United States Federal District Court judge Rudolph Contreras, who was appointed to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia by President Barack Obama in March of 2012. Contreras has served on the FISC since May 19, 2016, with his term expiring on May 18, 2023. Judges are selected for the FISC by the chief justice of the United States, who presently is John Roberts. Strzok's relationship with Contreras might have created a conflict of interest for Contreras regarding his presiding over General Michael Flynn's guilty plea, as discussed by Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist and by Chuck Ross of The Daily Caller.
The Daily Caller quotes one of Strzok's texts that apparently describes a conversation Strzok had with Contreras about his appointment to the FISC:
He mentioned thinking about it even though he was junior, they needed people and they especially needed minorities, and then he said he'd gotten on a month or two ago at a graduation party we were both at.
This raises several questions. Do the criteria for selecting FISC judges include sex, race, or ethnicity? Does Contreras believe that the FISC "especially needed minorities," or does Contreras believe that this is a belief held by those who select the FISC judges, or both? If selection of FISC judges is based, in part, on sex, race, or ethnicity, how are such preferences consistent with laws that prohibit such preferences?
Somebody should have a discussion with Contreras and Roberts about these questions. The media should try to find out about any such preferences.
Allan J. Favish is an attorney in Los Angeles. His website is allanfavish.com. James Fernald and Mr. Favish have co-authored a book about what might happen if the government ran Disneyland, entitled Fireworks! If the Government Ran the Fairest Kingdom of Them All (A Very Unauthorized Fantasy).