- Edward Earl Carnes
name = The Honorable Ed E. Carnes
office = Judge on
United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
termstart = 1992
George H. W. Bush
Frank Minis Johnson
successor = Incumbent
birthdate = Birth date and age|1950|6|30|mf=y
Edward Earl Carnes, a conservative jurist, sits on the
United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Judge Carnes was born on June 3, 1950in Albertville, Alabama.
Carnes received his
B.S.from the University of Alabamain 1972. He received his J.D.from Harvard Law Schoolin 1975. After law school, he accepted a position as an assistant state attorney general for the state of Alabama, where he served from 1975 to 1992.
From 1981 to 1992 he served as the Chief of the Capital Punishment and Post-Conviction Litigation Division of the Alabama State Attorney General's Office. As the head of Alabama capital punishment unit, Carnes became, according to the National Law Journal, “the premier death penalty advocate in the country and a chief adviser on capital punishment to judges, the U.S. Justice Department and other prosecutors.” [ “Judge Blasts High Court on Death Penalty Appeals,” Mobile Register, May 19, 1994.] Carnes re-wrote Alabama’s death penalty statute, [Richard Lacayo, “To the Bench Via the Chair: A Major Confirmation Fight is Brewing Over the Replacement of a Federal Judge Who Was a Civil Rights Hero,” Time, Sept. 14, 1992.] and defended its use before the
Supreme Court of the United Stateson three occasions, including Beck v. Alabama, 477 U.S. 625.
His ascendancy to the bench created a hole in the capital punishment unit, leading an Alabama appellate judge to lament that the state had lost a “very effective voice in support of executions in this state.” [ “Newsmakers: Edward E. Carnes,” The National Law Journal, Dec. 28, 1994.]
Nomination and confirmation
Carnes was nominated by
George H. W. Bushon January 27, 1992 for the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuitto a seat vacated by Frank Minis Johnson. To Carnes’ opponents, he was a poor choice to succeed Judge Johnson, a hero of the civil rights movement who had declared that the segregated buses of Montgomery, Alabamawere illegal. [See, e.g. “A Legacy Dishonored,” San Jose Mercury News, Sept. 15, 1992.] Some compared replacing Johnson with Carnes to Bush’s earlier decision to replace Thurgood Marshallwith Clarence Thomas. Nonetheless, his nomination might have sailed through the Senate if not for the Rodney Kingincident, which encouraged Senate Democrats to use Carnes’ nomination as a chance to stump against racism in the criminal justice system. [Richard Lacayo, “To the Bench Via the Chair: A Major Confirmation Fight is Brewing Over the Replacement of a Federal Judge Who Was a Civil Rights Hero,” Time, Sept. 14, 1992.]
Critics blasted Carnes for defending Alabama prosecutors accused of systematically excluding blacks from death penalty trial juries. [”1992: Year of Unexpected,” Mobile Register, Dec. 27, 1992.] Carnes’ supporters responded that as a prosecutor, Carnes had engaged in a campaign to eliminate racial discrimination in jury selection even before the Supreme Court had become involved in the issue. [”Victory Over Smears,” Memphis Commercial Appeal, Sept. 15, 1992.] They noted that, when selected by the judges of the state to prosecute judicial misconduct, Carnes had sought sanctions against sixteen sitting judges, including two thrown off the bench for racist remarks. [Id.] He also sought a venue change to a county with a higher black population for the retrial of a twice-convicted black defendant accused of brutally murdering a white. [Id.] .
Prominent southern civil rights lawyers were split over the nomination. Stephen Bright, director of the Southern Center for Human Rights, testified against the nomination, and lambasted the Senate’s decision to confirm Carnes to the bench. [David Pace, “Senate’s Approval of Judge Attacked: Civil Rights Groups Criticize Edward Carnes After Confirmation Vote,” Akron Beacon Journal, Sept. 10, 1992.] But
Morris Dees, cofounder of the Southern Poverty Law Centerand Carnes’ frequent adversary, went door-to-door among Senate Democrats, fighting on behalf of Carnes. [Dick Lehr, “For Crusaders Against Klan, a New Cause: Teaching Tolerance,” Boston Globe, Jan. 19, 1993.] The two Democratic senators from Alabama both supported his nomination, as did the attorneys general of each of the states comprising the Eleventh Circuit. [Neil A. Lewis, “Senate Accepts Carnes; A Judicial Confirmation Continues Tilt to the Right,” New York Times, Sept. 13, 1992.]
After eight months and a Democratic filibuster, Carnes was confirmed by the
United States Senateon September 9, 1992 by a vote of 62 for and 36 against. [“Roll Call,” Baltimore Sun, Sept. 13, 1992.] He received his commission the following day.
Judge Carnes has a precise yet folksy writing style, often engaging in wordplay and the use of literary allusions. He has been described as "one of the more talented writers on the federal appellate bench." [See http://howappealing.law.com/0207.html]
Carnes' wry humor sometimes earns comparisons to Judge
Alex Kozinskion the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. [ “See, e.g. http://everything2.com/index.pl?node=The%20Ten%20Commandments%20Judge; Judge Blasts High Court on Death Penalty Appeals,” Mobile Register, May 19, 1994.] However, a better comparison may be to former Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., who, like Carnes, regularly used allusions and metaphors, often to justify deference to the legislature. Judge Carnes would probably find the comparison to Justice Holmes flattering. He has referenced Holmes by name in more than twenty-five written opinions. [Westlaw Search on 5/5/07] Judge Carnes occasionally gives speeches on effective writing and on metaphors in the law.
###@@@KEY@@@###succession box| title=Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit| before=
Frank Minis Johnson| after=incumbent | years=1992-present|
* [http://www.fjc.gov/public/home.nsf/hisj Federal Judicial Center biography]
* [http://www.ca11.uscourts.gov/about/judges/carnes.php Eleventh Circuit biography]
* [http://www.ca11.uscourts.gov/ United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit]
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