WASHINGTON — Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III and several White House officials arranged for federal appeals court Judge Irving R. Kaufman to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, after Kaufman agreed to retire from active service, sources said.
Meese denied through a spokesman that any trade was made.
The retirement of Kaufman, 77, a liberal on many issues, makes room for a conservative on the closely divided U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York.
The Reagan Administration plans to nominate Stuart Summit to fill the vacancy, sources said. Summit would be the Administration's eighth appointee to the 13-member panel, considered one of the most important federal courts.
Kaufman was said to have long sought the Medal of Freedom. In response to inquiries, the White House announced Friday that he will receive it next month.