Gavel Grab

Archive for the 'Judicial Nominations' Category

Despite Democratic Opposition, Senate Confirms Judge Nominee

CapitolflagThe U.S. Senate confirmed four federal judges on Wednesday. The vote on one of the nominees was unusual in that every Republican senator voted to confirm him, while more than half the Democratic senators voted against doing so.

The Senate voted 69 to 31 to confirm Northampton County Judge Edward Smith as a federal district court judge in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Judge Smith had the bipartisan backing of his home-state senators, the Washington Post reported. Its blog post was headlined, “A first? GOP majority vote on Obama judge nominee.” As a Republican candidate for the House of Representatives in the 1990s, Smith made anti-abortion statements, according to UPI.

Also confirmed were  Gerald A. McHugh Jr. for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, 59-41; Judge M. Douglas Harpool for the Western District of Missouri, 93-5; and  Christopher Reid Cooper, to serve on the federal bench in the District of Columbia, 69-31.

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HI Legislature Supports Disclosure of Judicial Finalists’ Names

Both chambers of Hawaii’s legislature have passed, with no dissenting votes, a proposed constitutional amendment to require disclosure of the names recommended by a judicial screening commission for appointment as judges.

Gavel to Gavel, a publication of the National Center for State Courts, reported on the legislative action. Proponents of the measure say the public deserves to know the finalists’ names, while opponents contend an attorney’s practice can be harmed if it is known publicly that he or she is aspiring to the bench.

In November, voters will consider the proposed constitutional amendment, Gavel to Gavel said, as well as another that would raise from 70 to 80 the mandatory retirement age for judges.


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Historic Judicial Nominee Gets Rubio’s Consent for Hearing

Sen. Rubio

Sen. Rubio

Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has given a green light for the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold a confirmation hearing on President Obama’s nomination of Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Darrin P. Gayles for a federal district court seat in Florida.

If confirmed, Judge Gayles would become the first openly gay African-American man to serve on the federal courts. According to a Huffington Post article, by signaling his consent, Rubio “has removed the biggest obstacle to Gayles’ confirmation.” Last year, Rubio effectively blocked advancement of Obama’s nomination of another judge who, if confirmed, would have held the same groundbreaking status. Read more

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Obama On Track to Shatter Records for Diverse Judicial Picks

With some analysts saying it will be difficult for Democrats to retain control of the Senate in November, examination of President Obama’s impact on the federal courts already has begun.

A NPR report suggests the president has shied from pushing overtly ideological nominees for federal judgeships, while building a strong record for diversity on the bench.

“If present trends continue, he will have appointed more African-Americans than any other president, more Hispanics than any other president, more women than any other president and many more Asian-Americans,” said Russell Wheeler of the Brookings Institution. Read more

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Senate Leader Eyes Votes on More Judges Next Week

Since late February, the U.S. Senate has voted to confirm 13 judicial nominees, and if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is successful, it will hold more votes on judges after the Senate returns March 24 from a recess.

In most of the recent cases, Senate Republicans cast votes to filibuster the judicial nominees and later voted to confirm them, according to the Blog of Legal Times.

Meanwhile Jeffrey Toobin blogged for The New Yorker about a “farm team” of appellate judges that President Obama can choose from if he is faced with a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court during the remainder of his second term.

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Column Urges Senator to ‘Stop Stonewalling’ Judge’s Nomination

CapitolflagU.S. Sen. Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, “needs to stop stonewalling” and allow the nomination of a federal district court nominee in his state to proceed in the Senate, a Greenville Daily Reflector op-ed says.

Federal prosecutor Jennifer May-Parker, if confirmed, would be the first African-American judge to sit on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. She would fill a judgeship that has not had an occupant since 2005 and now claims the longest-running vacancy in the nation. Burr has declined to say why he has refused to consent to the Senate Judiciary Committee proceeding to hold a hearing on the nomination of May-Parker, whom he once endorsed (see Gavel Grab). Read more

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Former Alaska AG: State Shouldn’t Change Judge Selection Process

Proposed constitutional amendments changing the makeup of the council that submits judicial nominees to the governor could lead to a weakened system, according to the former Alaska Attorney General.

In an opinion piece for the Anchorage Daily News, Charlie Cole says the Alaska Judicial Council, which is made up of three attorneys and three non-attorneys, is doing its job well and changes are not necessary.

Currently, the Alaska Judicial Council evaluates applicants and nominates the best-qualified person to the governor for judicial appointment. The governor must appoint one of the Council’s nominees.

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Historic Judicial Pick Made; No Let-up in Georgia Controversy

Leslie Abrams, a federal prosecutor, would become the first African-American female to serve on a federal court in Georgia if the Senate confirms a nomination announced this week by President Obama.

While the nomination drew praise from Democratic U.S. Rep. David Scott, he did not back down on his high-profile criticism of another Obama nominee for the federal court in Georgia, Michael Boggs, and neither did the NARAL Pro-Choice America group, the Huffington Post reported. To learn more about controversy over the Boggs nomination, see Gavel Grab.

Meanwhile, Staci Michelle Yandle, nominated for the U.S. District Court in Illinois, “sailed through her confirmation hearing” before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, according to the Washington Blade.  Yandle would become the first African-American lesbian federal judge in two decades if confirmed.

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Protestors Urge Reappointment of New Jersey Chief Justice

Protestors called this week for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to reappoint New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner, and they questioned his handling of nominations for the state Supreme Court and other judgeships.

Christie has vowed to reshape the Supreme Court and has declined to reappoint two veteran justices. Critics have contended his actions and statements threaten the independence of the judiciary, and the New Jersey State Bar Association raised that issue recently in urging the Chief Justice’s reappointment (see Gavel Grab).

Outside a court hearing on Tuesday regarding the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal, protesters called for reappointment of the judge, who has been publicly criticized by the governor over court rulings. “The court should not bow to the whims of anyone in the administration, they shouldn’t be afraid of political pressure,” said Ann Vardeman of Citizen Action, according to The (Bergen) Record. Read more

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U.S. Senate Confirms Five Federal Court Judges

CapitolflagThe U.S. Senate voted unanimously on Wednesday to confirm Utah Court of Appeals Presiding Judge Carolyn McHugh to sit on the Tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, making her the first Utah female to sit on that appeals court, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

Also on Wednesday, the Senate confirmed the following judges for U.S. District Court seats in Michigan: Matthew Leitman, Judith Ellen Levy, Laurie J. Michelson and Linda Vivienne Parker. All except Parker were unanimously confirmed.

Meanwhile, a Roll Call blog post was headlined, “Next Nasty Nomination Fight for Obama: Michael Boggs on the Hot Seat.” To learn background about opposition by some groups and political leaders more typically allied with President Obama, who are critical of the judicial nomination of Boggs, click here for Gavel Grab.

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