News that University of Utah law professor Scott Matheson Jr. has been nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals has been marred by speculation that the nomination is an attempt to suborn the vote of his brother, Rep. Jim Matheson, in favor of the Obama administration's health care proposal. From my personal knowledge, this speculation cannot be true.
As the former occupant of the judicial position to which Matheson has been named, I was consulted in August 2001 by the White House Counsel's office to discuss potential nominees. It was clear Matheson was the leading contender.
The decision to nominate Matheson must have been made by mid-October, because in mid-January 2010 I received a call from the American Bar Association committee investigating him. Because of the need for a thorough FBI check, it takes approximately three months from the date the White House decides on a judicial nominee before the ABA can do its work. On Nov. 7, the House of Representatives passed the health care bill, with Rep. Matheson voting "nay."
Evidently, President Barack Obama nominated Matheson, who has superb credentials and excellent character, for the position despite the politics of health care, not because of it.
Michael W. McConnell Director, Stanford Constitutional Law Center