Archive for the 'Judicial Nominations' Category
The scope of President Obama’s imprint on the nation’s federal courts is coming into focus. A longtime expert on judicial nominations says Obama’s legacy on shaping a more diverse bench is sweeping and historic.
“What Obama has done within terms of his judicial legacy is what no other president has ever done before and it’s doubtful that any future president is going to match it,” Sheldon Goldman, a professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, told TIME. “Obama has diversified the bench in terms of gender, ethnicity, nationality to an extent never, ever, ever done before.”
The TIME report also mentions that according to an academic study, Obama is “on track to be the first president in U.S. history to have a majority of his judicial nominees be either women or persons of color.” In President Reagan’s administration, by contrast, white men made up 85% of appointed judges. Read more
Gov. Jerry Brown’s nomination of Leondra Kruger, a 38-year-old U.S. Department of Justice employee, for the California Supreme Court is getting some heat.
Ric Sims, a retired appellate judge, questioned her lack of judicial experience and working knowledge of California law, according to the Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog.
Former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown said about Kruger, who would become the sole African American justice on the state’s highest court, “Were there no qualified African Americans in California?” Read more
The Senate adjourned this week after having confirmed the most federal judges in a two-year Congress since 1980, the Washington Post reported. At the same time, opposition left some judicial nominees in limbo.
One was Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Michael Boggs, according to RH Reality Check. He had encountered outcries from leading Democrats and some groups supporting them over past positions taken by then-legislator Boggs on volatile issues including the Confederate flag, abortion rights and marriage for same-sex couples (see Gavel Grab).
Another was Jennifer May-Parker, nominated for the Eastern District of North Carolina, according to the Greensboro (N.C.) News & Record. Her nomination became stalled after Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., blocked it through an arcane Senate procedure called the “blue slip” (see Gavel Grab), without publicly explaining his reason. Read more
The Senate voted to confirm 12 district court judges on Tuesday night, including Loretta Biggs, who will become the first African American woman to serve as a district judge in North Carolina, and Robert Pitman of Texas, who will become the first openly gay judge to serve in the Fifth Circuit.
The rush of confirmations came as the Senate was wrapping up business in its lame-duck session. A Huffington Post article about the confirmations was headlined, “The Senate Just Cemented Obama’s Judicial Legacy,” and it reported that 89 district and circuit court judges were confirmed this year. (See Gavel Grab for mention of an earlier Associated Press article about the statistics of judicial confirmations this year.)
“These confirmations mean that, for Americans across the country, justice will no longer be delayed,” Michelle Schwartz of Alliance For Justice said. “They also mean that taxpayer money will be saved by avoiding needlessly duplicative paperwork and Read more
Rhode Island’s Judicial Nominating Commission has revised its rules to permit public comment on candidates for judgeships before the commission interviews them in public as part of its vetting process.
According to a Providence Journal article about the new rule, “The intent is to give the panel an opportunity to explore concerns or issues raised by the public — and for contenders to have the chance to respond to any criticisms raised.”
In 1994, Rhode Island adopted by constitutional amendment a merit-based selection system for choosing judges. That followed a series of scandals involving state Supreme Court justices.
In the final days of its lame-duck session, the Senate could confirm as many as 12 judicial nominees, the Associated Press said. If that happens, President Obama will have won confirmation of 88 judge nominees this year, more than any president since 1994.
“He’s changed the face of the judiciary,” said scholar Russell Wheeler of the Brookings Institution. “Whether or not that will have a long-term impact, I think, is another question.”
In November 2013 the Democrat-led Senate voted to change its rules to eliminate filibusters of cabinet nominees and federal judges other than Supreme Court justices. The change has meant that these nominees require only a simple majority of 51 votes, rather than an effective supermajority of 60 votes, for confirmation. Since the rules change, the Senate’s confirmation of judges has accelerated. Read more
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback jettisoned transparency when he picked a Court of Appeals judge last year under a new law that dumped a judicial nominating commission, a Lawrence Journal-World editorial says.
Now that Brownback is preparing to nominate a new judge to the appeals court, for confirmation by the state Senate, he ought to adopt a significantly more transparent process and at least make public the names of candidates seeking the judgeship, the editorial contends.
This would be in keeping with the emphasis that Brownback lent in his reelection campaign this year to the importance of a governor’s naming judges for Kansas courts, it says. And it notes that Brownback is considered likely to push for the legislature to remove the role of a judicial nominating commission from the current selection process for Kansas Supreme Court justices.
Senate Democrats, eyeing the Republican takeover of the chamber next month, are pushing to win confirmation of about a dozen judicial nominees in the current lame-duck session along with other executive branch picks, the Associated Press said.
There were concerns raised by Republicans. Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, raised an objection to voting on the judicial nominees, The Hill reported. He said newly elected senators should have a voice in whether to confirm the judicial nominees.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has made confirmation of nine judicial nominees among his priorities for action as the chamber winds up its work this year, according to The Hill.
The newspaper’s article said some of the district court nominees would bring greater diversity to the federal courts, including Robert Pitman, the first openly gay judicial nominee in Texas; Amit Mehta, who if confirmed would become the first Asian Pacific-American to serve on the D.C. District Court; Loretta Biggs, who would become North Carolina’s first African-American female federal judge; and Elizabeth Dillon, who would be the first woman to serve as on the District Court for the Western District of Virginia.
Because Republicans will take control of the Senate in January, it may be the last chance for confirmation of some of the president’s nominees, The Hill reported.
In its final weeks before Republicans take over, the Democrat-led Senate is working to confirm more of President Obama’s judicial nominees.
On Wednesday, according to The Hill, the Senate confirmed David Hale to sit on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky and Mark Kearney and Gerald Pappert for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. All three were confirmed by voice votes.