President Obama nominates Karen Gren Scholer to Eastern District of Texas

Karen Gren Scholer

Karen Gren Scholer

Several weeks ago President Obama made six nominations to fill vacancies to the federal district court, with five of the nominations for vacancies in the federal bench in Texas. Given the outsized importance of the Eastern District of Texas relative to patent litigation, one nomination in particular is worth the attention of the patent and innovation community.

Karen Gren Scholer has been nominated to serve on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. If confirmed, Scholer, who was born in Tokyo, Japan, will become the first Asian American to serve as a federal district court judge in Texas or any of the courts encompassed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, a territory that encompasses Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

While Republican Senators are promising to block the confirmation of Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee for the vacant Supreme Court post, Texas Senator John Cornyn has signaled his willingness to work with the President to confirm judicial nominees for lower court positions in Texas. “This disagreement over the Supreme Court is not going to stop my commitment to work across the aisle to help Texas and Texans. And to that end, we’ve been working with White House on five judicial nominations,” Cornyn said. See Cornyn Pledges to Help Obama Seat Texas Judges.

It is believed that Republican Presidential Candidate, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, will also support Scholer for the Eastern District post given that Cornyn and Cruz jointly created the so-called Federal Judicial Evaluation Committee, which reviews applications, interviews candidates and makes recommendations to the Senators with respect to who should be supported for federal court vacancies. While this practice may strike some as unusual, for federal court vacancies other than the Supreme Court U.S. Senators from the State where the court is located have exceptional influence with respect to recommending nominees to the President.

Scholer, who earned her law degree from Cornell University Law School and her undergraduate degree from Rice University, is currently a principal and co-managing partner at Carter Scholer Arnett Hamada Mockler PLLC, in Dallas, Texas. She is an experienced litigator and former State judge who has presided over 100 trials. Her judicial experience includes eight years as a state district judge on the 95th Judicial District Court, Dallas County, Texas. She has also served as the presiding judge for Dallas County Civil District Court Judges and, on one occasion, as a Justice on the Tenth Court of Appeals by appointment of former Texas Governor Rick Perry.

Prior to becoming a State judge in Texas, Scholer had a successful civil litigation practice. For more than18 years she was a litigation partner at two major Texas law firms, including Jones Day, Andrews & Kurth LLP, and Strasburger & Price LLP.


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6 comments so far.

  • [Avatar for Night Writer]
    Night Writer
    March 31, 2016 04:43 pm

    Gene, I am pretty sure that dist judges are being held back. I remember just reading a article in the state bar association journal about it.

  • [Avatar for Stephan Curry]
    Stephan Curry
    March 30, 2016 10:01 pm

    Hey Gene,
    You know you are suppose to say Fed Circuit and the four letter word CAFC is a no-no. You know CAFC is Chisum’s pet peeve word.

  • [Avatar for Gene Quinn]
    Gene Quinn
    March 30, 2016 07:50 pm

    Not to sound overly naive, but I don’t think most nominations for district court judges are very controversial. The whole point of giving home state Senators so much influence seems to be to ensure easy passage of the President’s nominees. It gets more difficult as a Judge is appointed to the Court of Appeals, in some circumstances at least, particularly where there is some reason to know one party or the other really likes the nominee and thinks they might make a fine SCOTUS nominee one day. But remember that the CAFC appointments go smooth in almost all cases.

  • [Avatar for Curious]
    March 30, 2016 07:23 pm

    I think the O-man is playing nice.
    Perhaps he is being cagey? Getting the Senate to consent on his nominations for other judges weakens the Republican’s argument that Obama is a lame duck and we should wait for the “voters to speak” in the upcoming election. Obama’s argument could be something like “if you can consent to these judicial nominations, why can’t you vote on a judicial nomination for the high court?”

    Of course, the Republicans would treat such an argument like they’ve treated all the other arguments (namely … to mostly ignore them). However, arguments like that aren’t necessarily intended just for the Senate, but for public consumption as a whole.

    It is likely that she is chosen based on her positions on several key issues that Obama [supports]
    Fixed it for you. Whether (i) Obama supports those positions because his contributors pay him to do or (ii) Obama always supported those positions and the contributions flow because of his previous support can be easily be debated. As for patents, as I have stated many times, I doubt Obama spends any substantial time thinking about intellectual property issues. I doubt he was touched by intellectual property issues during his formative years, and those that support strong/weak patent rights are such a minor yet politically diverse group that there is little political advantage to pander to one over the other (although the infringer group of Google et al. has recently held sway).

  • [Avatar for Edward Heller]
    Edward Heller
    March 30, 2016 05:52 pm

    I think the O-man is playing nice.

  • [Avatar for Night Writer]
    Night Writer
    March 30, 2016 07:28 am

    Sounds impressive, but we all know that these judicial candidates often agree to implement policies as part of being nominated or are nominated based on their harden policies and willingness to legislate from the bench.

    I think we need to re-think the whole thing. It is likely that she is chosen based on her positions on several key issues that Obama is getting money to push. I’d like to know her positions on patents. Still, let’s fact it–the system is completely broken. I have no faith that this person or any person appointed to the judiciary is going to faithfully uphold the Constitution and apply the laws of the land–none.