Trump Nominates Antonin Scalia’s Son as Labor Secretary

Gene Scalia has a track record of going to court on behalf of Wall Street.

Olivier Douliery/CNP/ZUMA

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

On Thursday evening, Donald Trump announced that he will nominate Gene Scalia, the son of former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and a prominent conservative lawyer in his own right, to serve as labor secretary.

If confirmed by the US Senate, Scalia will replace Alex Acosta, who stepped down following outrage of a plea deal he oversaw in Jeffery Epstein’s case in 2007. But Scalia may face an uphill battle in the confirmation hearings. George W. Bush nominated Scalia to serve as the Labor Department’s top lawyer, but Democrats blocked his confirmation—then-North Carolina Sen. John Edwards objected because Scalia lacked “necessary empathy for workers”—and Scalia was forced to just serve as a temporary recess appointment.

Back in 2014, I profiled Gene Scalia for our magazine, detailing how, following his time in Bush’s White House, he made a name for himself as Wall Street’s go-to lawyer for challenging Dodd-Frank, the 2010 legislation that placed restrictions on the banks following the Great Recession. As I wrote at the time, Scalia successfully used the courts to water-down the law.

In less than five years, the 50-year-old son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has become a one-man scourge to the reformers who won a hard-fought battle to pass the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act to rein in the out-of-control financial sector. So far, he’s prevailed in three of the six suits he’s filed against the law, single-handedly slowing its rollout to a snail’s pace. As of May, a little more than half of the nearly four-year-old law’s rules had been finalized and another 25 percent hadn’t even been drafted. Much of that breathing room for Wall Street is thanks to Scalia, who has deployed a hyperliteral, almost absurdist series of procedural challenges to unnerve the bureaucrats charged with giving the legislation teeth.

Scalia did not merely affect the rules he directly challenged. The lawsuits on behalf of Wall Street created concern among federal bureaucrats about future challenges, slowing down implementation of other rules.

Scalia has “created this sense that we’re paralyzed, because if we write a rule we’re just going to be reversed,” says Lisa Donner, executive director of the watchdog group Americans for Financial Reform. The threat of more suits, she says, has “cast a real chill” over Wall Street regulators, particularly at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Read the rest of my profile of Trump’s new labor secretary here.

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate