Archive for the 'Judicial Nominations' Category
Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa has called President Obama’s nominations to three fill vacancies on an influential appeals bench “court packing,” but an editorial in a leading home-state newspaper says Grassley is flat wrong.
The phrase refers to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s failed 1937 efforts to add seats to the Supreme Court and then name his appointees, a Des Moines Register editorial says. Today, on the other hand, Grassley has used a “bad analogy,” and “Filling vacancies on the federal courts is the president’s constitutional duty. Unless any of the three is found to be unsuited for the bench, the Senate should confirm them.”
A showdown may unfold in the Senate over Obama’s nominees for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, a stepping stone to the Supreme Court. Grassley is a Republican. Read more
Does President Obama’s selection of three nominees for vacant seats on a highly influential appeals court constitute “court packing?” A USA Today editorial offers a resounding “no.” In reply, Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch calls for filling other judicial vacancies first.
The USA Today editorial board calls the “court packing” argument of several leading Republican senators an “Orwellian word-twisting” and “ludicrous.” Filling empty, authorized seats on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is the kind of job that presidents are supposed to do, it says.
Some Republicans contend there is not the workload to justify filling the three seats. “That’s disingenuous because the unusually complex cases the D.C. Circuit hears give it one of the most challenging and time-consuming dockets of any circuit court,” the editorial contends. It also notes that Democrats advanced the same workload argument when a Republican president was seeking to fill empty seats on the same court.
The editorial concludes with an appeal for an end to the “partisan tit-for-tat.” It states, “Continuing warfare over judicial nominees will undermine the courts and drive Congress’ abysmal ratings even lower.” Read more
The president’s recent announcement of three nominees for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (see Gavel Grab) is getting attention and commentary in the nation’s capital and outside it.
A (Baton Rouge, La.) Advocate editorial called for “less politics on judgeships,” commended Obama for recently stating that both parties have engaged in partisan maneuvering on judges, and urged the Senate to act on his picks. “Neither party has a perfect track record here, but the Senate should start to mend its record on judicial nominations this year,” the editorial said.
At the Daytona (Fla.) Times, George Curry of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service wrote, “The next major showdown in Washington may not be over how best to reduce the deficit or involve another Obama cabinet appointment. Look for sparks to fly over the president’s Read more
It’s “backwards” when critics contend President Obama is trying to further his policy goals by nominating judges for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Doug Kendall, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center, argues in a USA Today op-ed.
In fact, Kendall writes, “Dating back to President Reagan, Republican presidents have filled 15 of the last 19 vacancies on the D.C. Circuit and nine of these nominees remain in service as active or senior judges. These conservative presidents have used this important court as a training ground for Supreme Court nominees — Roberts, along with Justices Scalia, Thomas and Ginsburg were elevated from the D.C. Circuit — and as a home for committed opponents of health, labor and environmental safeguards. Because the D.C. Circuit has the exclusive power to hear many types of cases involving these safeguards, these judges have the power, on any given day, to issue rulings that send Obama’s agenda into a tailspin.”
Given this history, Obama “simply needs judges who will uphold validly enacted laws and reasonable regulations,” Kendall contends. He says Obama has done his job by choosing nominees for vacancies on the influential appeals court, and now it is time for the Senate to do its job. Read more
President Barack Obama has pulled ahead of his predecessor and nominated more women to the federal bench than any other president, reports the Blog of Legal Times.
According to a study by the Alliance for Justice, 42 percent of Obama’s nominees that have been confirmed to the bench are women. The corresponding nomination rates by former Presidents George W. Bush and President Bill Clinton were 22 percent and 29 percent respectively.
“This administration deserves credit for working to create a federal judiciary that more closely reflects the richness and diversity of the American people,” said AFJ President Nan Aron.
Members of groups such as AFJ that focus on judicial vacancies met with administration officials last week to discuss the need to fill more vacancies on federal benches across the country, the article says. Read more
Rhode Island’s use of a version of merit selection for its principal courts has gotten news media attention recently, when Common Cause Rhode Island said participants have acted in a manner that undermines it (see Gavel Grab).
John Marion, executive director for Common Cause RI, said there is a deadline of 21 days for governors to select judges from candidates listed by the Judicial Nominating Commission, but governors have “ignored” it. He also said legislators annually enact legislation that permits the governor to take nominees from outdated candidate lists.
Gavel to Gavel, a publication of the National Center for State Courts, now provides context by reporting on recent developments in the legislature.
Gavel to Gavel reported that annual bills have made eligible for gubernatorial appointment any candidates recommended by the Judicial Nominating Commission for the same court in the prior five years.
Currently, two bills for another annual extension are “on the verge of failure,” and the existing relevant provision is set to expire June 30, according to Gavel to Gavel. Read more
In Tennessee, there is debate about whether the soon-to-expire Judicial Nominating Commission should be screening and recommending candidates for three appellate court vacancies that will occur in more than a year.
The debate comes in the wake of the legislature’s inaction this year to extend the life of the screening commission. It expires after June 30. Next year, voters will be asked to approve or reject a proposed constitutional amendment to give the governor unilateral power to pick judges, subject to confirmation by the legislature.
The three judges will retire Aug. 30, 2014. The commission currently is working to recommend candidates for the vacancies before its authorization sunsets.
“I think I can understand the nominating commission is trying its best to do its duty before it sunsets,” said state Sen. Doug Overbey, who had pushed in the legislature for an unsuccessful bill to extend the commission’s life to 2015, according to a Knoxville News Sentinel article. He supports the merit-based judicial selection plan currently used in Tennessee. Read more
The Washington Post’s Fact Checker is at it again. Earlier this week, he took issue with Sen. Charles Grassley’s statement that the D.C. Circuit has a lower workload than others (see Gavel Grab). Now he’s challenging President Obama’s statement about the slow-walking of his judicial nominees.
Obama stated, “Time and again, congressional Republicans cynically used Senate rules and procedures to delay and even block qualified nominees from coming to a full vote. As a result, my judicial nominees have waited three times longer to receive confirmation votes than those of my Republican predecessor.”
The Fact Checker column by Glenn Kessler gives Obama “two Pinocchios” after examining relevant confirmation data. Kessler notes that when looking at the average period from a committee vote to a floor vote on an appeals court nomination, the 1:3 ratio holds up, but the results are vastly different when looking at the period from nomination to a Senate floor vote. And he says Obama has recorded a slightly better overall rate for percentage of appeals court judges confirmed:
“Leaving aside Obama’s confusing language at the news conference, the president’s record is not three times worse than his predecessor — except in this circumstance. But that’s really not the most enlightening statistic. Depending on how you do the math, in some ways, Obama’s record is slightly better.”
Obama has nominated three candidates (photo) for vacancies on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (see Gavel Grab). The nominations followed the Senate’s earlier unanimous confirmation of Sri Srinivasan for the same court. A Kansas City Star editorial now Read more
Amid plenty of rhetoric in Washington over filling three vacancies on the D.C. Circuit, the Washington Post Fact Checker analyzes and takes issue with Sen. Charles Grassley’s statement that the court has a low workload compared to others.
Grassley, R-Iowa, is pushing a bill to reduce the court’s 11 authorized judges to eight. In support, he has said, “No matter how you slice it, the D.C. Circuit ranks last or almost last in nearly every category that measures workload.” President Obama nominated this week two lawyers and a judge to fill the vacancies (see Gavel Grab).
The Fact-Checker column by Glenn Kessler gives Grassley “two Pinocchios” for his bottom-line statement after examining various kinds of workload data and noting that the court, formally named the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, leads all others for administrative appeals terminated on their merits and for percent of published opinions. Here is Kessler’s conclusion:
“Just as judges can sometimes rely on certain precedents to write their opinions, the voluminous and detailed statistics on the appeals courts allows each side to pick and choose the stats that supports their position. The White House’s reliance on pending appeals is a bit tortured, given that other metrics come up with less favorable results. But the certainty in Grassley’s argument is particularly misplaced, given the unusual nature of the D.C. Circuit. Read more
President Obama’s announcement of three nominees for a highly influential appeals sparked a wave of media coverage nationwide, focusing attention on partisan politics that has stalled or blocked some Obama judicial nominees. In some accounts, the new nominations were viewed as a test for Obama and the Senate.
In one of the first editorial board responses from a major national newspaper, the New York Times commended the simultaneous nominations strategy, praised the nominees’ qualifications and said that it is time to end partisan obstructionism:
“While Republican obstructionism is largely to blame, Democratic fence-sitting has also been a problem. The White House has often taken too long to make nominations, and the Judiciary Committee has rarely been speedy about moving them to the floor. The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, has talked about eliminating the 60-vote threshold to approve judicial and executive nominations, yet he has not done so. These new nominations are a test for him and the Democrats as well as the Republicans. The Senate should provide its advice and consent on them soon. If not, Mr. Reid and his caucus should use their power to require a simple-majority vote for all confirmations.”
On Tuesday, Obama introduced the trio of nominees to the nation in an unusual Rose Garden event. Justice at Stake said the nominations to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit give the Senate a new opportunity to show bipartisanship and strengthen our courts (see Gavel Grab).