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Obama Now Selling Judgeships for Health Care Votes?

Obama names brother of undecided House Dem to Appeals Court.

6:15 PM, Mar 3, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Tonight, Barack Obama will host ten House Democrats who voted against the health care bill in November at the White House; he's obviously trying to persuade them to switch their votes to yes. One of the ten is Jim Matheson of Utah. The White House just sent out a press release announcing that today President Obama nominated Matheson's brother Scott M. Matheson, Jr. to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

“Scott Matheson is a distinguished candidate for the Tenth Circuit court,” President Obama said.  “Both his legal and academic credentials are impressive and his commitment to judicial integrity is unwavering.  I am honored to nominate this lifelong Utahn to the federal bench.” 

Scott M. Matheson, Jr.: Nominee for the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

Scott M. Matheson currently holds the Hugh B. Brown Presidential Endowed Chair at the S.J. Quinney College of Law, University of Utah, where he has been a member of the faculty since 1985.  He served as Dean of the Law School from 1998 to 2006.  He also taught First Amendment Law at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government from 1989 to 1990. 

While on public service leave from the University of Utah from 1993 to 1997, Matheson served as United States Attorney for the District of Utah.  In 2007, he was appointed by Governor Jon Huntsman to chair the Utah Mine Safety Commission.  He also worked as a Deputy County Attorney for Salt Lake County from 1988 to 1989.  Prior to joining the University faculty, Matheson was an associate attorney from 1981 to 1985 at Williams & Connolly LLP in Washington, D.C.

Matheson was born and raised in Utah and is a sixth generation Utahn.  He received an A.B. from Stanford University in 1975, an M.A. from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar, and a J.D. from Yale Law School in 1980.

So, Scott Matheson appears to have the credentials to be a judge, but was his nomination used to buy off his brother's vote?

Consider Congressman Matheson's record on the health care bill. He voted against the bill in the Energy and Commerce Committee back in July and again when it passed the House in November. But now he's "undecided" on ramming the bill through Congress. "The Congressman is looking for development of bipartisan consensus," Matheson's press secretary Alyson Heyrend wrote to THE WEEKLY STANDARD on February 22. "It’s too early to know if that will occur." Asked if one could infer that if no Republican votes in favor of the bill (i.e. if a bipartisan consensus is not reached) then Rep. Matheson would vote no, Heyrend replied: "I would not infer anything.  I’d wait to see what develops, starting with the health care summit on Thursday."

The timing of this nomination looks suspicious, especially in light of Democratic Congressman Joe Sestak's claim that he was offered a federal job not to run against Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania primary. Many speculated that Sestak, a former admiral, was offered the Secretary of the Navy job.

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