Legal memos justifying drone killings bring controversy for appeals court nominee

Controversy over legal memos justifying drone killings may hold up confirmation of a former Justice Department lawyer’s nomination for a seat on a federal appeals court based in Boston.

Both Democrats and Republicans are criticizing nominee David Barron, now a Harvard law professor, for writing the memos when he was acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, report the New York Times and the Boston Globe. One memo justified the overseas drone killing of a U.S. citizen.

Both the American Civil Liberties Union and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., want to delay a confirmation vote until the memos are released. Paul has said he will use his power to hold up the confirmation until disclosure of the documents.

A federal appeals court ordered release of the memos in April, but the White House has not done so as it appeals.

Barron is nominated for a seat on the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. According to the Times, Republicans also object to confirmation for what they see as Barron’s radically liberal views on constitutional issues.

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