I am disappointed, but not surprised, by the tone of Stephanie Grace’s recent commentary, “David Vitter’s long coattails extend to the judiciary.” Grace implies that the president’s nominations of Judge Kurt Engelhardt and Wendy Vitter to respective seats in the federal Judiciary reflect political payback more than merit. No one denies the obvious connections to former U.S. Sen. David Vitter. But Grace glosses over the nominees’ sterling professional careers that make each most worthy of confirmation.
In his service as a U.S. district judge, including time as chief judge of the Eastern District of Louisiana, Engelhardt has earned his reputation as a fair and thoughtful jurist. He is widely respected by the local bar. He treats parties with courtesy, demands counsel be well-prepared as he always is, and runs a no-nonsense courtroom. He is exceptionally qualified for elevation to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Wendy Vitter is no stranger to the courtroom herself. After graduating from Tulane Law School, she served as an assistant district attorney under Harry Connick. She prosecuted defendants accused of violent crimes like rape and murder, and quickly rose to be chief of trials. In 1990, she was the first to present DNA evidence in a criminal trial in New Orleans.
I watched Vitter serve as her husband’s equal partner in his career. She cares deeply about justice and the rule of law. She is a critical thinker with an inspiring work ethic. Currently, as general counsel for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans, Vitter heads the legal department of one of Louisiana’s largest and most esteemed institutions. As the archdiocese’s top lawyer, her responsibilities include advising church parishes, schools, and ministries.
Wendy Vitter’s résumé speaks for itself. Her temperament, sharp mind, and experience qualify her to be a U.S. District Court judge.