Rhode Islander Jack McConnell and his wife have contributed $700,000 to Democrat candidates and liberal organizations over the last three decades. Three members of the U.S. Senate committee considering his nomination for a federal judgeship are beneficiaries of that largesse.

Is that sufficient reason to approve his nomination to be a judge? Of course not, but we can't think of any other. Perhaps there is one more. Jack McConnell could offer plaintiffs attorneys a judge sympathetic to their courthouse antics. After all, he's one of them.

For a high-flying plaintiff's attorney like Jack McConnell, $700,000 is just a business expense. As his part of the Big Tobacco settlement, the Motley Rice attorney will receive as much as $3 million in annual deferred payments for the next 14 years -- that's $42 million work-free dollars.

West Virginians may recognize the Motley Rice firm from its lawsuits filed here. The South Carolina-based law firm is chummy with firms here -- it has filed a trove of asbestos lawsuits in West Virginia.

In recent years, McConnell was unable to duplicate his stunning tobacco success in a Big Paint class action suit in his home state -- one publicly supported by our Attorney General Darrell McGraw -- but he has done well with asbestos suits and contingency-fee arrangements with other state attorneys general.

McConnell is one of the bright bulbs who helped broaden the legal notion of "public nuisance" to include the products or byproducts of just about any industry big enough to sue.

Can't make a tort case againt Acme Industries? Label their widgets a public nuisance!

Venue shopping is another favored technique, making him and his firm fixtures in our plaintiff-friendly court system.

We've seen how Motley Rice attorneys like Jack McConnell operate, and we'd be hard-pressed to think of anyone less suited to a federal judgeship.

The plaintiffs attorneys would no doubt be delighted to have a "made man" like him on the federal bench. Having a teammate serve as referee in an athletic event, comes to mind.

A partisan insider like Jack McConnell does not belong on the federal bench. We urge Sens. Robert Byrd and Jay Rockefeller, and their colleagues, to oppose this nomination.

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