Lee Philip Rudofsky, Arkansas' former solicitor general, was nominated Monday by President Donald Trump to fill a federal judgeship in the Eastern District of Arkansas.
Rudofsky, 40, has lived in Bentonville since leaving his role as the state's top trial attorney a year ago to take a job with Walmart's ethics and compliance department. He was an assistant general counsel for the company before Attorney General Leslie Rutledge hired him in August 2015 for her office's No. 2 position.
If approved by the U.S. Senate, Rudofsky will replace U.S. District Judge Leon Holmes, who was appointed in 2004 by President George W. Bush and who created the vacancy on March 31, 2018, by taking "senior status," a form of semi-retirement. Holmes, 68, plans to retire completely from judicial service on Sept. 30, U.S. District Clerk James McCormack said Monday.
Rudofsky declined to comment on the announcement Monday, but his former boss, Rutledge, issued a statement saying: "When I hired him away from Walmart in 2015, I knew that he had the experience and legal acumen to be the lead strategist on crucial litigation for my administration as the first official Solicitor General of the Attorney General's office. I am confident that as a jurist Lee will be fair, impartial and will adhere to the rule of law."
Gov. Asa Hutchinson tweeted that Rudofsky "has been an invaluable asset to not only the Attorney General's office but to the state as a whole as AR's Solicitor General. His skills in the courtroom are second to none and I'm delighted that he's decided to stay in AR. I wish him the absolute best in his new role."
U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., also praised the nomination, which he recommended to the president. Cotton said in a news release: "Lee Rudofsky is an outstanding choice to serve as district court judge. Lee is an exceptionally qualified attorney, and has served honorably as the Solicitor General of Arkansas as well as a Senior Director of Walmart's Global Anti-Corruption Compliance program. Lee understands that the proper role for a judge is to interpret the constitution and the laws as written and I look forward to his confirmation."
In his role as solicitor general, a title that hadn't been used since the 1990s until Rutledge revived it, Rudofsky frequently appeared in federal court to argue on behalf of the state in controversial cases.
When Rudofsky left the attorney general's office, Rutledge praised his work defending Hutchinson's termination of Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood services.
Rudofsky also handled many of the oral arguments in 2017 as the state pushed to execute eight inmates in a two-week period. Four of the executions were carried out, and the issue of whether the state's three-drug protocol violates the Eighth Amendment rights of death-row inmates is still pending.
Rutledge said Rudofsky organized a multistate, bipartisan and multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the state of Delaware over who can lay claim to uncashed "official checks" issued by a subsidiary of Moneygram International, a money-transfer company.
She said Rudofsky is also credited with implementing the office's formal moot court program to prepare office attorneys for arguments and with establishing a clear review process of all briefs going to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis, which oversees federal courts in Arkansas, and to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Jerry Cox, president of the Family Council, a conservative education and resource organization based in Little Rock, said in a news release, "We are very pleased with President Trump's decision to nominate Lee Rudofsky."
He said Rudofsky is "highly qualified to serve as a federal judge," and as the state's solicitor general, he "tirelessly defended state laws and policies in court -- including policies that protect taxpayers from subsidizing abortionists like Planned Parenthood through Medicaid funding. ... I urge the United States Senate to confirm him."
Rudofsky is a New York native who, before coming to Arkansas in 2014, was a senior associate in Washington, D.C., for Kirkland & Ellis, a large, prestigious law firm with offices in several major U.S. cities. He worked at the firm for six years, and his practice focused on constitutional, environmental and complex commercial matters.
He also served as a law clerk to U.S. Circuit Judge Andrew Kleinfeld on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and to Justice Robert Gordy of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts.
According to his LinkedIn profile, he was deputy general counsel in 2012 for the Romney for President campaign, and in 2010 he held the same title for the Steve Poizner for Governor campaign in California.
He earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Cornell University, his Master of Accountancy from the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs and his juris doctorate from Harvard Law School.
He is an adjunct professor at the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville.
Metro on 07/02/2019
Print Headline: Walmart official, former solicitor general picked for judgeship