September 30, 2005

Private: Who is Ed Prado?

Another candidate rumored to be in the mix as a potential replacement for Sandra Day O'Connor is Fifth Circuit Judge Edward Charles Prado.
The 58-year-old Prado hails from San Antonio and received both undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Texas. Prado spent most of legal career involved in criminal work. He served as Assistant District Attorney in Bexar County, Texas, before moving to the federal public defender's office in Texas' Western District. After a stint as a Texas District Court Judge, Prado was appointed U.S Attorney for the Western District of Texas. Prado received several awards during this portion of his career, amongst them the Achievement Award, U.S. Attorney General (1980); Outstanding Young Lawyer of San Antonio (1980); and Outstanding Federal Public Defender, Western District of Texas (1978).

In 1984 Prado was nominated for a seat on the U.S Federal District Court in Western Texas by President Reagan. He served in that capacity until 2003 when George W. Bush nominated him to a seat on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and Congress approved him 97-0.
During the 1990s, Chief Justice William Rehnquist selected Judge Prado to lead a committee, which later came to be known as the "Prado Commission," to examine the administration of the federal public defender service. The Prado Commission recommended greater independence for federal defenders and recommended that criminal defendants be given more opportunities to select among public defenders.
There seems little doubt that Prado, if nominated, would be seen as compromise choice. In fact, a "Draft Prado" movement is advocating his nomination with a web site that describes Prado as a "nominee with a mainstream approach to the law who has earned the respect of both Republicans and Democrats."
Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), in a letter to the president, named Judge Prado as one of the five most-qualified candidates for the Supreme Court, citing Prado's legal excellence, moderate ideology, and ability to add diversity to the court. Similarly, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) called Prado, "a man who has made public service his career, and an outstanding one at that," and added that the people of Texas "know they will get fair and impartial justice in his court."
Judge Prado's record is highlighted by moderate decisions.
Prado on Roe v. Wade: In a 2004 case, McCorvey v. Hill385 F.3d 846 (5th Cir. 2004), Judge Prado was part of a Fifth Circuit panel that reviewed a suit by Norma McCorvey, the original Roe plaintiff, seeking to overturn that landmark decision. Judge Prado joined the panel and upheld the district court's ruling that McCorvey's challenge lacked standing and was moot. But notably, Judge Prado refused to join the concurring opinion of Judge Edith Jones which suggested that Roe was incorrectly decided.
Prado on Education Access and Due Process: In the 2000 case, GI Forum v. Texas Education Agency,87 F.Supp. 2d 667 (W.D. Tex. 2000), plaintiffs challenged a test that Texas high school students are required to pass in order to finish high school arguing that the test unfairly impacted minority students. Judge Prado did not find sufficient evidence that the exam violated students due process rights and upheld the constitutionality of the exam, but noted that courts must act "when a state uses its considerable power impermissibly to disadvantage minority students." Judge Prado described the case as "probably (his) most challenging decision ... in fifteen years on the bench."
Prado on Federalism: In the 1994 case Koog v. United States, 852 F.Supp. 1376 (W.D. Tex. 1994), Judge Prado ruled that the Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act, which required local law enforcement officials to comply with federal background checks, did not violate the Tenth Amendment state powers guarantee. Judge Prado held that the Tenth Amendment does not "prevent the federal government from imposing minimal duties on state executive officers."
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