The Senate Judiciary Committee will soon take up the nomination of Judge Amul Roger Thapar to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. This court handles federal appeals from Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio and Michigan, and it is the final stop for most cases in the federal judicial system.
The president could not have nominated a better person for this position. Thapar is a man of enormous integrity. He is also a man of robust intelligence and a very hard worker. Lawyers know when they appear before him that he will have read their briefs, as well as the cases they cite, and perhaps even a few cases they didn’t cite.
Thapar also has profound appreciation for the law as an institution. Both democracy and liberty are promoted by rules that are transparent, accessible and consistently applied. If we can find the rules and understand them, and if judges apply them faithfully, we can adjust our conduct to the rules and carry on with our daily lives. He would be precisely the person to effectuate these principles, to take the law set forth by the framers of the Constitution or by Congress and to apply it with fidelity.
He is also a kind and eminently decent human being. Although the law does not necessarily turn on those points, I am still gratified to know that a judge has those capacities.
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Finally, he has a wealth of experience. He has served as a federal trial judge and previously, he served as the chief federal prosecutor for the Eastern District of Kentucky. He also worked in private practice. From this broad experience, he has gained valuable perspective on various departments of the law, which will serve him well as an appellate judge.
Paul E. Salamanca
Professor of Law
University of Kentucky