There’s another story in today’s Globe about the nomination of Reed Hillman to be US Marshal for Massachusetts. Senators Kennedy and Kerry are still dead-set against it; apparently a small group of Dems in the state legislature has come out in favor. Kennedy, asked again why the former head of the State Police is so terribly underqualified to serve as US Marshal, said the following, according to the Globe:
Last week, Kennedy said he views the choice of Hillman as a political patronage appointment and that the position of marshal should go to a law enforcement professional of wide experience…. Asked to respond to the state lawmakers’ comments yesterday, Kennedy stood firm against Hillman’s appointment.
“Mr. Hillman does not meet the requirements in Section 505 of the Patriot Act,” his office said in a statement. “Senator Kennedy’s support of a nominee for this critically important position does not hinge on political affiliation.”
Just for the record, here’s section 505:
Section 561 of title 28, United States Code, is amended by adding at
the end the following new subsection:
“(i) Each marshal appointed under this section should have–
“(1) a minimum of 4 years of command-level law enforcement
management duties, including personnel, budget, and accountable
property issues, in a police department, sheriff’s office or
Federal law enforcement agency;
“(2) experience in coordinating with other law enforcement
agencies, particularly at the State and local level;
“(3) college-level academic experience; and
“(4) experience in or with county, State, and Federal court
systems or experience with protection of court personnel,
jurors, and witnesses.”.
First, note that the law says that marshals “should,” not “must,” have the listed qualifications. Second, Hillman obviously has qualifications (1) through (3); the only question is (4). So maybe the former head of the State Police doesn’t have direct experience in a courthouse. Can that really be so different from other law enforcement responsibilities? Is the fact that Hillman never got a job in a courthouse — choosing instead to devote most of his career to the State Police, which I’d respectfully suggest is perhaps in general more strenuous than working as a court officer — really enough to render this a “terrible” nomination, to use Senator Kerry’s words, despite Hillman’s 25 years in law enforcement and six years in the state legislature? Aren’t there bigger battles to fight?
Hillman’s nomination has to be approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and then confirmed by the full Senate. So if Kennedy digs in his heels, he obviously can kill this thing. I just can’t see why he’d bother.