Gavel Grab

Archive for the 'Judicial Nominations' Category

Advocate: Republicans Dragging Feet on Judicial Vacancies

CapitolflagFour vacancies on the federal courts in New Jersey can be attributed to partisan gamesmanship by Republicans, and people who are served by the courts are suffering as a result, an advocacy group says.

“The motivation behind this is purely partisan,”  Kyle Barry, director of justice programs for the Alliance for Justice, told “It’s the Republican leadership trying to minimize the number of judicial appointees by a Democratic president.”

“This is having a very real impact on the administration of justice in New Jersey,” Barry added. “Cases are being delayed, things are being slowed down, people aren’t being able to access the court in a timely manner.” Read more

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Tennessee Governor Asks for Second Round of Judicial Candidates

haslamDid Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam ask for a new slate of candidates from a judicial vetting panel because he found the first slate lacking of a worthy nominee? He’s not telling.

Haslam is working to fill a vacant Criminal Court judgeship in Hamilton County. He recently asked the Governor’s Council for Judicial Appointments for a new list of three candidates for the post. According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, a Haslam spokesman said the executive order by which Haslam created the selection process “gives him the authority to do it, and requesting the second panel is part of his thorough process to find the best fit for the position.”

A news release from Haslam’s office also sidestepped stating a reason why the governor did not nominate someone from the panel’s first list, according to To learn about Haslam’s executive order last year, see Gavel Grab.

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‘Look-back’ bill would lengthen list of judicial candidates in RI

Legislation known as the “look-back” bill in Rhode Island would broaden Gov. Gina Raimondo’s range of choice for judicial appointments. Raimondo would be able to “pick judicial nominees from lists forwarded by the Judicial Nominating Commission over the previous five years,” as reported by Providence Journal.

The newspaper reported that if the bill were not to pass, “the governor could choose a nominee only from the current list of three-to-five finalists submitted by the Judicial Nominating Commission” under the state’s existing merit selection process.

Common Cause Rhode Island has called this measure “an end-run past the merit-selection process.” John Marion, Common Cause’s executive director, stated that allowing so many candidates “allows politics to creep in.”

The full House was to take the bill up on Thursday. If passed, the legislation will head over to the Senate.

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Judge Nominee Gets Easy Hearing, With Uncertainty Ahead

In the Senate Judiciary Committee, Federal District Judge Judge L. Felipe Restrepo of Philadelphia had an easy nomination hearing on Wednesday for elevation to the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Whether his nomination is advanced to a vote in the Republican-controlled Senate remains to be seen, however, as there have been suggestions that in President Obama’s final year and a half, such confirmations could be suspended (see Gavel Grab) amid partisan maneuvering.

A Des Moines Register editorial said about Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the Judiciary Committee chairman, “Grassley can press ‘go’ on judicial nominees.” At a Brookings Institution blog, Russell Wheeler wrote, “With Senate control, will the GOP stop confirming circuit court judges?” The Washington Examiner reported, “No more showdowns over Obama’s judicial nominations?”

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Essay: Time to Fill an Appellate Seat Vacant for 2,000 Days

Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin has “obstructed at every turn,” Nan Aron of the liberal Alliance for Justice writes in Huffington Post about the reasons a court of appeals judgeship has long remained vacant.

You can learn from this earlier Gavel Grab post about the differing positions of Johnson and Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin over filling the vacancy on the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The seat has been vacant for 2,000 days.

President Obama should move past the standoff and nominate someone for the post “who will best protect the rights of everyday people in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin,” Aron writes. She is president of the Alliance for Justice and of Alliance for Justice Action Campaign.


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Scrutiny for Clinton’s Views on a Supreme Court Pick

Hillary Rodham Clinton’s remarks about selecting a Supreme Court nominee are drawing criticism from those on both the left and right who suggest she may have crossed the line and imposed a litmus test.

That’s according to the San Francisco Chronicle. It quotes Nan Aron, head of the liberal Alliance for Justice, as saying litmus tests on a single issue “take us down a very dangerous path. They will only prompt another litmus test on an issue like Roe vs. Wade.” And Carrie Severino of the conservative Judicial Crisis Network said “this ‘litmus test’ is code for appointing political hacks.” Read more

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Maybe Senate Won’t Shut Down on Confirming Appeals Judges

A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has clarified earlier remarks by the senator that were widely interpreted to predict a shutdown on confirming appellate judicial nominees (see Gavel Grab).

“He said nothing of the sort. He said we’re going to continue to do judges. There’s not a shutdown,” McConnell spokesman Don Stewart told The Hill. “We probably will have a circuit court nominee.”

Some Republican senators in the GOP-controlled Senate are working with the Obama administration to fill vacancies on the appellate courts that affect their home states, Glenn Sugameli noted. He monitors judicial appointments for Judging the Environment, a Defenders of Wildlife project.

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Will Senate Suspend Confirmation of Appeals Judges?

CapitolflagThe U.S. Senate has taken a “snail’s pace” approach to confirming judicial nominees this year, and the outlook could worsen if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s expectations are borne out, Huffington Post reported.

It is “highly likely” that the Republican-controlled Senate will not confirm any of President Obama’s nominees for the U.S. courts of appeals during the remainder of the president’s term, McConnell told a radio interviewer. That scenario would doom the nominations of District Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo for the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and of Kara Stoll for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. There are also seven appeals court vacancies without nominees to fill them.

According to Huffington Post, when President George W. Bush dealt with a Democratic Senate in his final two years in the White House, at a corresponding point in Bush’s seventh year the Senate had confirmed 15 lower court nominees and three for the appeals courts; the Senate has confirmed four district court nominees so far this year. A Roll Call blog post about the latest news was headlined, “McConnell Puts Squeeze on New Obama Federal Judges.”

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Panel Hearing Set on U.S. Appeals Court Nomination

President Obama’s nomination of U.S. District Judge Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo for the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has drawn media attention over delays that kept Restrepo from getting a confirmation hearing recently (see Gavel Grab). Now the Senate Judiciary Committee has announced a hearing next week on his nomination.

The Morning Call reported on the scheduled hearing, planned for Wednesday. It also noted that the nomination could face further delays in the Republican-controlled Senate.

“The real test is how quickly he is reported out of (the Senate panel) and especially how long it takes to have a floor vote,” law professor Carl Tobias of the University of Richmond told the newspaper.

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Senate Confirms Two Judges; Editorial Spotlights a Vacancy

Capitol_domeThe U.S. Senate confirmed the following two nominees to federal district court judgeships: Judge Rolando Olvera Jr. in the Southern District of Texas, and Utah Supreme Court Justice Jill Parrish in Utah. The Senate votes were reported by The Brownsville (Texas) Herald and The Deseret (Utah) News.

Meanwhile a Wisconsin State Journal editorial lashed out at partisan political gamesmanship over a vacancy on a federal appeals court that has existed on a federal appeals court for years (see Gavel Grab for background).

“The partisan fight comes down to Republicans and Democrats hoping to tip ideological control of the courts. But judges are supposed to be independent and not favor either party when interpreting the law,” the editorial said. Read more

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