On Friday, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, announced key personnel in his Washington, D.C., and Texas offices. The picks include his new chief counsel, Scott Keller, who was most recently an associate with Austin’s Yetter Coleman. An appellate lawyer, he has argued before the Texas Supreme Court and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and he clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. Neither Keller nor Cruz responded to calls for comment.
James Ho, a partner in Dallas’ Gibson Dunn & Crutcher who previously served as counsel to U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, says Keller likely will be spending much of his time assisting Cruz in his role as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which reviews all of the White House’s judicial nominations.
Cruz and Keller will have their hands full just considering potential candidates for federal benches in Texas alone. The Lone Star state currently has five district court benches vacancies and two vacancies up for grabs on the 5th Circuit.
Ho says it’s telling that Cruz hired Keller — who has made his name in appellate law rather than politics — to help with that task.
“The bottom line is it shows that they plan to be substantive and roll up their sleeves and be intellectually serious members of the committee,” Ho says.
— John Council