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Meese Denies Judge's Medal Will Be a Trade-Off

September 19, 1987|From the Washington Post

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.

Kaufman, who said in June he was taking "senior status" on the court, refused to comment Friday.

As a trial court judge, Kaufman ordered the execution of convicted Soviet spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in 1951, but is known for his liberal rulings.

The White House announcement said Kaufman will be cited for "his exemplary service to our country as a federal judge in New York, his works as chairman of the President's Commission on Organized Crime and his multifaceted effort to promote an understanding of the law and our legal tradition."

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