The Volokh Conspiracy

Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent


A reassuring choice for deputy attorney general


CNN and other news outlets are reporting that President-elect Donald Trump will nominate Rod J. Rosenstein to be deputy attorney general, the No. 2 position in the Justice Department. Rosenstein would be a fabulous choice for this position, and one that should be completely free of controversy.

Rosenstein currently serves as the U.S. attorney for Maryland. He was first appointed to this position by President George W. Bush in 2005 and retained in this position by President Obama. Prior to his appointment as U.S. attorney, Rosenstein served as the principal deputy assistant attorney general for the Tax Division in the Justice Department and as an assistant U.S. attorney. He also served in the Office of the Independent Counsel and as counsel to Deputy Attorney General Philip B. Heymann during the Clinton administration. Rosenstein is admired and respected on both sides of the aisle.

Rosenstein is also a veteran of the judicial confirmation wars. Bush nominated Rosenstein to an open seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in November 2007. At that point, the seat had been open for nearly seven years, but the Senate was in no rush to act. The Post praised Rosenstein as a "worthy nominee" and pointed out the hollowness of the arguments against him. No matter. The Senate never held a vote on his nomination, leaving the seat open for the next president to fill.