Altshuler Berzon partner P. Casey Pitts has spent most of his career as a union-side labor lawyer. He is now poised to join the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, where he would be the only judge to identify as LGBTQ.
Pitts got his B.A. from Yale University in 2003 and his J.D. from Yale Law School in 2008. After graduating, Pitts clerked for Judge Stephen Reinhardt on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and then joined Altshuler Berzon LLP in San Francisco, serving currently as a Partner in the firm.
History of the Seat
Casey has been nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, to a seat vacated on December 15, 2021, by Judge Lucy Koh’s elevation to the Ninth Circuit.
Pitts has spent his entire legal career at the left-leaning law firm Altshuler Berzon LLP (co-founded by Ninth Circuit liberal lion Marsha Berzon). At the firm, Pitts focused primarily on union-side labor law. Notably, Pitts represented the Writers Guild of America in a suit challenging talent agencies from accepting packaging fees from studios. See Writers Guild Suggests Judge’s Recusal in Agency Packaging Suit, Variety, May 1, 2019. The suit ended in a settlement. See Bryan Koenig, Writers Guild Cuts Deal With Last Talent Agency in Fee Suit, Law360, Feb. 8, 2021. Pitts also represented SEIU Local 668 in defending against a claim seeking repayment of union dues. See Bill Wichert, 3d Circ. Nixes Post-Janus Challenges to Union Dues, Law360, Jan. 19, 2021.
Among non-labor matters, Pitts argued before the California Court of Appeals on behalf of a class of plaintiffs challenging alleged false advertising on behalf of Apple Inc. See Justices Recharge iPhone Marketing Suit Against Apple, ICT Monitor Worldwide, Sept. 16, 2014. Pitts also represented a transgender employee fired by Tower Loan after he refused to sign a document stating that he was not in compliance with their personnel policies. See Civil Rights Groups Sue National Finance Company for Illegally Firing Transgender Employee, Targeted News Service, Apr. 13, 2015.
Statements and Writings
As a law student, Pitts authored an article critical of the military’s then policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” arguing that it hurts recruitment among the youth. See P. Casey Pitts, To Young People, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Means “Don’t Enlist,”, 116 Yale L.J. Pocket Part. 254 (November 14, 2006).
Pitts is facing a tight deadline to get confirmed by the end of the year. If not confirmed, Pitts’ confirmation would depend on Democrats keeping the Senate as it’s unlikely that a Republican senate would find him an acceptable nominee.
Pitts’ nomination surprised me. Dianne Feinstein has been cautious about state judicial nominations. But this one is one of the most outspoken nominees Biden has chosen. I wonder who recommended him?
This is a surprising nominee to me as well considering that most CA nominees have been pretty uncontroversial state court judges. I’d expect significant Republican opposition and a discharge vote to be necessary based on his prior experience (even as his resume is quite impressive).
This is a spectacular nominee. Definitely one of the top 3 nominees I’ve seen out of California since Biden took office. Chairman Durbin really needs to add one additional hearing on top of the every other week schedule unless Democrats hold the majority in the senate. Then Pitts can be co firmed early next year without incident.
This is one of the best nominations for a California district court so far under Biden. This is the sort of nominee one would expect from the most important liberal state with two Dem senators. It’s a shame that he’s the exception. It’s extremely disappointing that he probably won’t be confirmed, due to calendar/Dems senate loss.
California has two senators on SJC but often offer up mediocre at best district court nominees. California is (to my knowledge) also unique in having two separate judicial nomination commissions to recommend candidates for district court vacancies. So, for Pitts to come out of the two commissions’ evaluation process, senators’ recommendation, and win the nomination is remarkable.
When one of the most conservative Democratic senators in Dianne Feinstein is one of the senators there, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that their nominees have mostly been middle of the road and uncontroversial. Meanwhile, despite being a significantly more conservative state Georgia has seen much more liberal nominees as their senators are farther to the left.
Sounds like a great nominee.
We hoping we’d get a few Circuit Court nominations this week, but more likely it won’t be until Nov 2 (setting up a potential Nov 30 hearing date.
It probably won’t be till after Election Day, as who is nominated may depend on whether or not Democrats keep the Senate. That being said, I’m pretty sure almost any nominee for the New Hampshire based 1st Circuit seat could still confirmed with a slim GOP majority. Same could probably be said about the northern Indiana based 7th Circuit seat. For the 5th circuit, I guess it depends on how much the Texas Senators are truly consulted. I don’t think Ted Cruz deserves to be consulted, but as we saw with the Andre Mathis nomination, the lack of approval from home state Senators can very easily cause other Republicans to vote against the nominee. The 4th Circuit seat is the one where I think control of the Senate will play the biggest role in determining who is nominated. Biden could very well be considering some DC attorneys with who happen to live in Maryland. But if they have strong ties to Democrats, it’s unlikely a GOP senate would confirm them.
I don’t think a GOP led senate would confirm any judges, other than maybe some District Court nominees from red states whom both home state senators approve….This is basically what happened in Obama’s last two years..
Even if it was a 51-49 GOP senate, and Collins, Graham, & Murkowski would continue to vote for judicial nominees, McConnell would never bring them to the floor….A 51-49 GOP senate is basically a 64-36 GOP senate, as no nominees would get thru in either scenario…
That’s just one reason of many (incl abortion rights, democracy) that this election is so important, perhaps even the most important election in US history…
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Agree with Rick here 100%, with the exception of if a Federal Circuit opening occurred.
I’m surprised to see this from you.
There’s no way any of predictions would come true. Not with candidates that we can feasibly see a Dem president nominating. Maybe with Chad Meredith type nomination. Nothing else. As Rick points out, there could be 63 moderate Republicans in the senate, but as long as Mitch McConnell is the majority leader, he controls the calendar. It’s not a Republican conference decision. It’ll be a McConnell decision.
We don’t even have to speculate too much on this issue. This is well documents in the post-2014 GOP practice. Besides the Federal Circuit confirmation, Restrepo was an exception, due to the fact that Toomey was such a big backer.
This makes it all the more disappointing that we’re leaving 4 circuit court vacancies on the table.
(Sorry to the non-subscribers, there’s a paywall: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/26/opinion/supreme-court-case-for-affirmative-action.html)
This is a great example of how things said and wished for on this site might actually be far from reality. After reading this article, I am fairly certain that Driver doesn’t want to be a federal judge or won’t be a serious candidate. He doesn’t say anything crazy in this article, but he touches on controversial subjects that attorneys with an eye toward judicial service usually avoid.
That said, I disagree with his argument in this article. I simply do not understand how we can’t fully appreciate how extreme this SCOTUS is. In a normal era, his points would be well made. But the affirmative action/racial jurisprudence of a super majority of the current court dooms his position.
This court has two opportunities to kill AA next June. It needed only about half a chance. Justice O’Connor’s 25-year sunsetting of AA was always tenuous at best. Don’t expect this court to patiently wait for 6 more years to finally bury it.
Thanks for posting this article! I agree that Driver was never in serious consideration for a circuit court seat and isn’t interested in having one, and the stuff he says is quite controversial for those on the Republican side of the aisle. It is also a certainty that AA will be killed by this SCOTUS, with Roberts writing an opinion that will get rid of all such conduct for decades to come.
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I lean on the anti affirmative action side. I’ve seen the statistics of Harvard acceptance race vs. academic index by race, and it so statistically significant that it cannot be anything but discrimination against Asian Americans. I would prefer SCOTUS to just rule against Harvard without totally getting rid of AA (I think it’s ok in some situations) but I think SCOTUS will effectively end AA.
I just realized two senior U.S. Circuit Court Judges just passed away this month of October 2022 so far: The conservative giant, Laurence Silberman of the D.C. Circuit, and the first woman to serve on the Third Circuit Court, Dolores Sloviter of Pennsylvania. Silberman was 86 and Sloviter was 90. Interesting how the deaths of SCOTUS judges like Scalia and Ginsburg get national attention for days on end, but the deaths of circuit court judges just happen without much news coverage.