By Gregg Re | Fox News
President Trump on Thursday night announced he’s nominating attorney Gene Scalia, the son of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, to replace Alex Acosta as secretary of labor.
Scalia, 55, is currently a partner in the Washington office of the international law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. He is expected to face headwinds from Democrats in his Senate confirmation hearings, in part because he has routinely represented major corporations in key cases involving workers’ rights.
In 2005, for example, Walmart hired Scalia to defend against whistleblower lawsuits by employees who alleged wrongdoing in the company.
The Wall Street Journal wrote in 2012 that Scalia “has emerged as one of the industry’s go-to guys for challenging financial regulations.” In some of his biggest cases, according to the Journal, Scalia “focused on how regulators analyze the cost of new rules, building a legal strategy that echoes a political argument of [then-] Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney—that added regulations are holding back the economy.”
Eugene Scalia pictured in 2001 with then-Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo. (Tom Williams/Roll Call/Getty Images)
“The government has to adhere to the law also and this is a country where if the government doesn’t adhere to the law you can take them to court and get a remedy,” Scalia said at the time.
The appointment would be something of a homecoming for Scalia, who served as the chief legal officer, or Solicitor, for the Labor Department under President George W. Bush.
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In that role, he oversaw not only all Labor Department litigation, but also provided “legal advice on rulemakings and administrative law,” according to his biography on Gibson Dunn’s website.
Justice Antonin Scalia was reportedly ‘enthusiastic’ about a Trump presidential run. (Reuters)
Additionally, Scalia was a special assistant to Attorney General Bill Barr — when he was the attorney general for the first time, in President George H.W. Bush’s administration. Scalia was also a speechwriter for Education Secretary William Bennett.
In 2018, Scalia secured a win for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce by convincing a judge to overturn the Labor Department’s Obama-era 2016 fiduciary rule governing retirement account advisers, which Scalia said had “very serious problems.” A judge agreed with conservatives who said the Obama administration had “overreached” in how it classified advisers as fiduciaries, who were therefore obligated to act in their clients’ best interests — and put clients’ interests ahead of concerns for their own compensation.
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The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found fatal problems in how the rule defined advisers and “financial advice,” and critics said the rule made it harder to charge commissions and earn profit from advising smaller accounts.
I am pleased to announce that it is my intention to nominate Gene Scalia as the new Secretary of Labor. Gene has led a life of great success in the legal and labor field and is highly respected not only as a lawyer, but as a lawyer with great experience….
Donald J. Trump
….working with labor and everyone else. He will be a great member of an Administration that has done more in the first 2 ½ years than perhaps any Administration in history!
“I am pleased to announce that it is my intention to nominate Gene Scalia as the new Secretary of Labor,” Trump wrote in a tweet late Thursday. “Gene has led a life of great success in the legal and labor field and is highly respected not only as a lawyer, but as a lawyer with great experience working with labor and everyone else.”
Trump added: “He will be a great member of an Administration that has done more in the first 2 ½ years than perhaps any Administration in history!”
U.S. President Trump Addresses Joint Session of Congress – Washington, U.S. – 28/02/17 – Maureen Scalia, the widow of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, acknowledges applause after being mentioned by U.S. President Donald Trump. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque – RTS10VGY (Reuters)
Trump forged a close personal relationship with the Scalia family during the confirmation process for Justice Neil Gorsuch, who ultimately filled Scalia’s seat.
Scalia’s widow, Maureen, was at the White House ceremony last summer when Trump announced he would nominate Justice Brett Kavanaugh to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.
Acosta stepped down as head of the Labor Department last Friday over his past involvement in a cushy 2008 plea deal for financier Jeffrey Epstein, who is now facing federal sex trafficking charges.
Acosta’s resignation will become official on Friday, when his deputy, Patrick Pizzella, will take over as acting Labor secretary, pending Scalia’s confirmation. Gregg Re is a lawyer and editor based in Los Angeles.
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