Gavel Grab

Archive for the 'Judicial Nominations' Category

Two N.J. Supreme Court Nominees Advance in Legislature

New Jersey’s Senate Judiciary Committee has voted favorably on Gov. Chris Christie’s nominations to the state Supreme Court of Chief Justice Stuart Rabner (a renomination) and Superior Court Judge Lee Solomon.

Although Christie has sharply disagreed with both Justice Rabner personally and with the court he leads, the governor recently reappointed Justice Rabner and nominated Solomon in a package deal he negotiated with Democrats in control of the Senate (see Gavel Grab). Christie is a Republican, as is Solomon. Read more

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Brookings’ Wheeler Looks at Judicial Confirmation ‘Juggernaut’

Capitol_dome“[T]he process of staffing the federal courts is getting better, but given the process’s long-degraded state, that’s not saying much,” courts expert Russell Wheeler of the Brookings Institution observes about the Senate’s recently accelerated pace for confirming judicial nominees (see Gavel Grab).

Wheeler, highlighting relevant statistics, suggests that a Senate rules change last year may have less to do with the confirmation “juggernaut” than other political factors:

“The more likely reason for 2014’s confirmation juggernaut is Democratic fears that confirmations will grind to a near-standstill if Republicans take control of the Senate in 2015. [President George W.] Bush, overall, got 321 judges confirmed over eight years. [President Barack] Obama will need to add 60 more confirmations to his 261 so far to match Bush’s record. He’s unlikely to get another 47 during the rest of 2014, given election year recesses. If Democrats retain control of the Senate, getting more than 321 confirmations for his full eight years will be well within reach. If they don’t, 321 could be beyond reach, given Senate Republicans’ professed outrage over the filibuster’s demise.” Read more

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President’s Imprint on Federal Bench is Noted

U.S. judges named by Democratic presidents now outnumber those named by Republicans at both the trial court and circuit court levels, as President Barack Obama puts his imprint on the federal bench, MSNBC reported.

Appointees of Democrats make up 53.5 percent of the judges on circuit courts and 52.9 percent of judges on district courts, the network said, relying on data from the Alliance for Justice. Read more

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Latest Confirmed U.S. Judges Will Expand Diversity

New judges confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Tuesday will expand gender, racial and professional diversity in the federal court system.

On a 58-35 vote, Richard Boulware, a federal public defender, was confirmed to the U.S. District Court for Nevada. He will be the first African American male on the federal bench in Nevada, the Las Vegas Sun reported.

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Will Christie’s Judicial Picks Be an Issue in 2016 Contest?

Appointing federal judges can be one of a president’s longest-lasting legacies. With that issue in mind, Carrie Severino of the Judicial Crisis Network slams New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for his state judicial appointments, especially the recent reappointment of  Supreme Court Justice Stuart Rabner (see Gavel Grab).

In a scorching Fox News commentary, Severino writes of the Republican governor’s Supreme Court appointments, “After five years as governor and four appointments, Christie still can’t seem to tell a judicial home run from a strikeout.” She calls Justice Rabner “an unapologetic liberal activist” and “ringleader of an activist circus” on the state’s highest court. Read more

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Successful Confirmations Highlight Importance of Federal Judiciary

President Obama’s increased rate of confirmed judicial nominees shows that the Democratic Party knows the heightened importance of the federal judiciary, according to an article in The Daily Beast.

“Federal appellate and district courts are enormously important in our legal system. More than 99 percent of federal cases are never decided by the Supreme Court and are resolved at the final stage by these other federal courts. The conventional wisdom in Washington is that these courts might be important, but Democratic presidents cannot get their nominees confirmed to these courts,” the article states.

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For Dozens of Judicial Vacancies, No Nominees Awaiting Action

Judicial-VacanciesAlthough the Senate recently has confirmed dozens of judicial nominees (see Gavel Grab), the vacancies that remain include 38 for which there are no nominees, Huffington Post reports. The blames goes to home-state senators who aren’t recommending candidates to the White House, Jennifer Bendery writes.

“The concentration of vacancies without nominees in certain states clearly shows that some senators are refusing to perform their constitutional duty at the expense of our courts and the citizens trying to access them,” said Caroline Fredrickson, president of the American Constitution Society.

Twenty-one of the 38 vacancies are found in states with two Republican senators, 12 are located in states represented by a single Republican senator. The remaining four are in states represented by two Democrats in the Senate. Read more

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Article: Progressives Torpedo Potential Judge Nominee

In the shadow of another federal court nomination controversy, progressives in Pennsylvania apparently have torpedoed a possible package-deal court nomination for corporate lawyer David Porter, a Republican.

That’s the gist of a Huffington Post report suggesting that a big grass-roots effort mounted to oppose a nomination of Porter has succeeded. The article says Porter helped launch a coalition to fight the nomination of Justice Sonia Sotomayor and is head of the Federalist Society’s Pittsburgh Lawyers Chapter.

Michael Morrill, executive director of Keystone Progress, which opposed a potential nomination of Porter, said negotiations between the White House and Pennsylvania’s senators were influenced by controversy that has flared over the package-deal judicial nomination of Michael Boggs. A Georgia state judge, he is opposed by numerous progressives who more frequently side with President Obama, and his nomination appears to be in trouble.

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Controversy Continues Over Senate’s ‘Blue-Slip’ Tradition

As home-state U.S. senators apparently step up their use of the “blue-slip” process to fight some of President Obama’s judicial nominees, an overwhelming majority of the judicial vacancies for which there is no nominee now exists in states with at least one Republican senator.

This trend was identified by a NPR report, based on data compiled by Russell Wheeler of The Brookings Institution. “Almost 90 percent of all the judicial vacancies still awaiting nominees are now in states with at least one Republican senator,” NPR said.

Under the Senate “blue-slip” tradition, Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy requires consent from both senators in the state where a judicial nominee will sit before the committee agrees to hold a confirmation hearing. The tradition effectively “gives virtual veto power over judicial nominations to home state senators,” according to NPR. The tradition Read more

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Opinion: U.S. Judicial Vacancies in Texas at ‘Crisis Point’

Judicial-VacanciesWith eight U.S. district court judgeships vacant in Texas and two more vacancies coming, the ability of sitting federal judges to fulfill their constitutional responsibility is threatened and at “a crisis point,” retired U.S. District Judge Royal Furgeson writes in an Austin American-Statesman op-ed.

There are a total of 52 trial court judgeships in the state. Sitting judges are working at a 120 percent capacity to handle their own heavy loads and those of others. With a potential vacancy rate of one out of every five judgeships, the courts are crippled, Judge Furgeson suggests:

“Imagine if the Dallas Mavericks or the San Antonio Spurs or the Houston Rockets played their games with only four players on the court. Things wouldn’t go well. Neither will things go well in our federal courts if these vacancies persist.” Read more

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