AL: Black Lawyers Frustrated by Resistance to Obama Appointments

According to the Birmingham Times, opposition to President Obama’s plans to fill the vacant U.S. Supreme Court seat and other federal openings has caused frustration among a number of black legal organizations.

The political circus in Washington following the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia comes after more turmoil in Alabama surrounding resistance to the nomination of Judge Abdul Kallon for Alabama’s 11th Circuit. The seat, which has been vacant for almost three years, has yet to be filled and Kallon would make history by becoming the first African American from the state to serve on the appellate court.

“This is so political,” said Alabama Democratic congresswoman Terri Sewell, who was the keynote speaker at a recent symposium in Birmingham on Judicial Diversity. “The selection of federal judges should not be a partisan issue. We all benefit when diverse candidates are considered based on their qualifications, ability and character, not political ideology,” she added.

Benjamin Crump, President of the National Bar Association, said it’s not only Kallon’s nomination that’s being held up. Speaking to the newspaper, Crump named a number of prominent jurists, “all of them black, most are Ivy League educated with exceptional credentials, and yet they can’t even get a hearing.”


Lithwick Hits ‘Supreme Tantrum’ Over Virginia Judicial Appointment

Seal_of_Virginia.svgAnalyst Dahlia Lithwick minces no words in slamming Virginia Republican legislators for their expected effort soon to remove a respected woman justice on the state Supreme Court, a recess appointee of the Democratic governor, in a purely partisan political tussle.

At Slate, Lithwick writes that removing Justice Jane Marum Roush “would … strike an irreparable blow to judicial independence and reinforce the idea that the good old boys of the commonwealth are beyond clueless when it comes to appearances, public office, and gender.”

“It is beyond deranged to allow the legislature to elect state Supreme Court justices,” Lithwick continues. She then seizes on the fact that only 17 percent of the General Assembly’s members are women. “And this current situation is exactly the kind of smoke-filled backroom, tit-for-tat politicking that keeps women from putting their names forward for such seats and keeps them from being supported and protected in male-dominated legislatures.” (more…)

Georgia Court Hears Challenge to Gov’s Appeals Court Appointments

According to the Daily Report, the attorney for a group challenging the governor’s authority to appoint three new judges to the Georgia Court of Appeals clashed with state’s attorneys this week, arguing for a Fulton County judge to step in and declare the appointments unconstitutional.

Wayne Kendall, who represents a half-dozen petitioners demanding that the judgeships be filled by elections, said that he in fact speaks for more than 6 million Georgia voters “who have had the right to vote taken away from them.”

Gov. Nathan Deal had already named Amanda Mercier, Nels Peterson and Brian Rickman to the judgeships, positions which had been created by the General Assembly earlier this year and were due to begin on January 1st. But a planned swearing-in ceremony slated for Tuesday has been postponed.

Before Superior Court Judge Goger, Kendall argued that the Georgia Constitution requires that newly created seats on the Court of Appeals must be filled by elections—unlike vacancies, which the governor may fill with his own selections.


Oregon Gov. Kate Brown Announces Three Judicial Appointments

Governor Kate Brown announced three appointments to the Oregon Supreme Court and Oregon Court of Appeals on Monday, according to The Oregonian.

Lynn Nakamoto will become the first Asian Pacific American on the Oregon Supreme Court, and fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Virginia Linder. She had previously served as vice chair of the Oregon Board of Bar Examiners in 2001 and chair of the Oregon State Bar Affirmative Action Committee in 2006.

Roger DeHoog and Scott Shorr were both appointed to the Oregon Court of Appeals Monday morning. DeHoog, who has worked as a Deschutes County Circuit judge since 2012, will become the second Asian Pacific American to serve on the Court of Appeals after filling the vacancy made by the departure of Nakamoto; he had served as a senior assistant and attorney general at the Oregon Department of Justice. Scott Shorr, who is a managing shareholder at the Portland firm Stoll Berne, is described by the governor’s office as “one of the state’s top appellate lawyers,” having frequently argued before the state’s appellate courts, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court.