Judge Jesse Furman is the U.S. District Judge in the Southern District of New York who is overseeing the challenge of the Trump administration‘s plan to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. The 47-year-old New York native was nominated to the federal bench by President Barack Obama.
After Furman rejected the Department of Justice’s request to change some of its lawyers in the census case, President Donald Trump lashed out at him on Twitter. Trump tweeted, “So now the Obama appointed judge on the Census case (Are you a Citizen of the United States?) won’t let the Justice Department use the lawyers that it wants to use. Could this be a first?”
According to The New York Times, Furman did not allow DOJ lawyers to leave the case, saying they did not satisfactorily explain the reason they want to depart the case and show that it will not impede the case. Furman wrote in his order, “Defendants provide no reasons, let alone ‘satisfactory reasons,’ for the substitution of counsel, adding that their written assurance that their departures wouldn’t impede the case “is not good enough.”
The plaintiffs in the case, led by the ACLU and the New York Attorney General’s office, asked the judge to block the reassignment of lawyers. “The Justice Department owes the public and the courts an explanation for its unprecedented substitution of the entire legal team that has been working on this case,” Dale Ho, the A.C.L.U.’s lead attorney on the case, said, according to The Times. “The Trump administration is acting like it has something to hide, and we won’t rest until we know the truth.”
Here’s what you need to know about Judge Jesse Furman:
1. Furman Was Nominated by President Barack Obama in 2011 & Was Confirmed by the Senate in 2012 After a 5-Month Filibuster
Judge Jesse Furman was nominated to the federal bench as a U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of New York in on June 7, 2011. Furman’s nomination was not without controversy. Democrats controlled the Senate at the time, but Republicans put up a fight, leading to a five-month filibuster battle.
Tthe Republican filibuster of Jesse Furman, who by any traditional measure is a consensus nominee, is another example of the tactics that have all but paralyzed the Senate confirmation process and are damaging our Federal courts,” Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat, said in a press release in 2012. “It should not take five months and require a cloture motion for the Senate to proceed to vote on this nomination. At a time when nearly one out of every 10 judgeships is vacant and we have over 20 judicial nominations reported favorably by the Committee, 16 of which have been stalled on the Senate calendar since last year, nearly all of them superbly-qualified consensus nominees, our Federal courts and the American people cannot afford more of these partisan tactics.”
Leahy wrote, “I got to know Mr. Furman when he was the counselor to Attorney General Michael Mukasey. That is right: The Senate Republicans are filibustering someone strongly supported by President Bush’s Attorney General who was himself a Federal judge. When Mr. Furman’s nomination was before the Committee last summer, Attorney General Mukasey wrote to the Committee in strong support, ‘All I can hope to add is my own belief that he is a person to whom one can entrust decisions that are consequential to the lives of people and to the general welfare of the populace, with confidence that they will be made wisely and fairly… and I urge that he be confirmed.'”
Leahy added, “Former Supreme Court clerks who served at the same time as Mr. Furman, including clerks for conservative Justices such as Chief Justice Rehnquist, Justice Thomas, and Justice Scalia wrote in support of Mr. Furman’s nomination, stating that, ‘Mr. Furman has demonstrated his deep respect for and commitment to the rule of law, over and above politics or ideology.’ With this bipartisan support, the strong support of his home state Senators, and his impressive background, Mr. Furman’s nomination was reported by the Judiciary Committee on September 15, without opposition from a single member of the Committee. We should have voted on his nomination many months ago, and certainly before the end of the last session. Senate Republicans have blocked this nomination for over five months without any explanation.”
The GOP backed down on February 16, 2012, and Furman’s nomination was confirmed by a 62-34 vote.
In 2005, Furman was listed in a New York Observer article as a potential future Supreme Court nominee.
2. He Grew Up in New York City & Attended Harvard College & Yale Law School
Furman was born and raised in New York City. He is the son of Gail Gorman Furman, a psychologist, and the late Jay Furman, a real estate developer. His father, Jay Furman, died in 2015. He owned properties in 39 states, including 150 shopping centers, office buildings, hotels and storage facilities through his company, RD Management LLC.
Jesse Furman graduated from Harvard in 1994 and then went on to Yale University Law School, graduating in 1998. He also spent a year as a Henry Fellow at Oxford University from 1994 to 1995.
3. Furman’s Brother, Jason Furman, Is an Economist Who Served as an Adviser to Obama
Furman’s 48-year-old brother, Jason Furman, is an economist and Harvard professor. Jason Furman was a former adviser to President Barack Obama during his presidential campaign and then during his tenure in the White House. Jason Furman was appointed as deputy director of the National Economic Council by Obama, a position he served in from 2009 to 2013, when Obama named him as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.
Jesse Furman said his brother picked up key things from his millionaire father, who went to law school and pursued a doctorate in economics, and his mother, a psychologist who was a social activist. “You combine the two,” Jesse Furman told The Washington Post in 2014, “and it’s not terribly shocking to see him end up where he is.”
4. He Worked as a Federal Prosecutor, Private Attorney & Clerked for 2 Federal Judges & Supreme Court Justice David Souter
Jesse Furman clerked for U.S. District Judge Michael Mukasey and U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit Judge Jose Cabranes, before spending a year as clerk to Supreme Court Justice David Souter.
Furman was a private lawyer at the firm Wiggin & Dana from 2000 to 2002 and from 2003 to 2004, working as a litigation associate in New Haven, Connecticut, on the white-collar defense, investigations and corporate compliance and the appellate litigation practice groups.
He became a federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York in 2004, serving in that role from 2007. According to his questionnaire ahead of his Senate confirmation hearing, Furman worked in the general crimes unit in the prosecutor’s office, on cases ranging from firearms offenses, immigration offenses, child pornography offenses, fraud and drugs.
Furman spent two years working for Mukasey, who had become U.S. Attorney General, from 2007 to 2009 as counselor. He returned to the Southern District of New York in 2009, where he worked as deputy chief appellate attorney until he was nominated to the federal judgeship by Obama in 2011.
5. Furman, Who Disclosed a Net Worth of $14.2 Million, Is Married to a Columbia Law School Professor & Has 3 Children
Ahead of his Senate confirmation hearing, Jesse Furman revealed he had a net worth of $14.2 million. According to Furman’s financial disclosure, much of his wealth comes from his family assets, including a $6.7 million share in the real estate firm his father created.
Furman is married to Ariela Dubler, a Columbia Law School professor who is also the head of school for the The Abraham Joshua Heschel School in New York. They have three children.