By Gretchen Schuldt
Federal judge nominee Gordon Giampietro opposed guaranteeing Constitutional rights to students in the state's voucher program, the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program.
Giampietro, President Trump's nominee to succeed U.S. District Judge Rudolph T. Randa in the Eastern District of Wisconsin, also appeared in opposition to a 1999 bill in the Wisconsin Legislature that would have prohibited discrimination against voucher school students based on "sex, race, religion, national origin, ancestry, creed, pregnancy, marital or parental status, sexual orientation or physical, mental, emotional or learning disability."
"Does Wisconsin really need a judge who does not oppose discriminating against children?" the Wisconsin Justice Initiative wrote in a letter to U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) opposing Giampietro's appointment.
Giampietro also told the conservative Heritage Foundation that an earlier Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction effort to ensure voucher students enjoyed Constitutional protections "would have been an extraordinary expansion of government control."
WJI urged Baldwin to investigate Giampietro's background.
"When you do, we are confident you will conclude that he is not qualified for the federal bench," WJI said.
The state's Republican senator, Ron Johnson, already returned his "blue slip," indicating support of the nomination; Baldwin has not.
Giampietro, a member of the right wing Federalist Society, is a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. He is not, however, a member of the Wisconsin Bar, which he quit in 2008.
"Does Wisconsin really need a judge who does not oppose discriminating against children?"
"His failure to join the state bar speaks volumes about his attitude toward the uniquely Wisconsin aspects of his chosen profession," WJI told the senator. "Federal judges often are asked to decide issues of state law when litigants are from different states. Is Mr. Giampietro familiar enough with Wisconsin laws to competently preside over those cases? Does he have any real interest in state law? His history and his refusal to associate himself with the Wisconsin Bar suggests he is not and does not."
His record at the U.S. attorney's office "is mediocre at best," WJI said. "His cases were largely routine, run-of -the-mill criminal cases."
Giampietro, in responding to questions from the U.S. Senate's Judiciary Committee, used the terms "to the best of my recollection" and "I estimate" when stating how many cases he tried or litigated to conclusion: a very modest 31. That number includes even cases in which he was not a primary lawyer, and those during his careers in private practice and in government..
"The number of cases he claims is indicative of inexperience," WJI said. "The type of cases they were, their outcomes, and his level of involvement in each will provide a more accurate picture of his abilities."
"Mr. Giampietro’s main qualification, like that of so many of President Trump’s nominees, appears to be his membership in the right-wing Federalist Society," WJI said. "His experience and demonstrated knowledge does not rise to the pre-Trump expectations the public and its elected representatives held for federal court nominees."
Please contact Sen. Baldwin and encourage her to oppose Gordon Giampietro's nomination as federal judge.
Gretchen Schuldt is executive director of the Wisconsin Justice Initiative.
Sign up for the free WJI newsletter.
Help WJI advocate for justice in Wisconsin