Judge Bates to Head Court Administration

A federal judge who has been a Whitewater prosecutor and judge on the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court will now oversee administration of the federal courts.  U.S. District Judge John Bates takes over July 1 as head of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.  The announcement Monday by Chief Justice John Roberts named Bates to replace Judge Thomas Hogan Jr., who has been in the director’s shoes since 2011.

Bates, who has served on the District Court in D.C., will manage 1,000 employees and grapple with management of the 29,000 court employees nationally as federal courts throughout the U.S. have seen their budgets slashed.

He is coming off a stint on the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, (FIS) appointed by Roberts in February 2006.

Bates served on the Whitewater investigation of President Clinton as an independent counsel from 1995-1997.  He was a federal prosecutor in the D.C. District fro 17 years, including a term as chief of the Civil Division.

He was appointed to the federal bench by President George W. Bush and confirmed in December 2001.

Bates was the author of a FIS court opinion that the First Amendment could not be used as basis for public access to the secret court’s records in a 2007 suit by the ACLU seeking release of court records.  At the time, the ACLU was accusing the National Security Agency of conducting surveillance of suspected international terrorists without court authorization.  (In re Motion for Release of Court Records, No. MISC.07-01)

The need for secrecy outweighs the benefits of safeguards against mistakes or potential overreaching and government abuse, Bates concluded.