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Archive for the 'Judicial Nominations' Category

New U.S. Senate Takes its Time on Obama’s Judicial Nominees

CapitolflagSince Republicans took control in January, the U.S. Senate hasn’t confirmed a single judicial nominee of President Obama’s, Huffington Post reported.

Sixteen judicial nominees await action, and eight of them would fill judgeships on courts deemed to be facing “judicial emergencies” due to heavy caseloads.

“It hasn’t always been the case that divided government means judicial nominations come to a halt,” the article said, pointing to Senate action on judicial nominees when President George W. Bush faced a Democrat-controlled Senate.

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Politics Prevent Him Filling High Court Vacancy, Christie Says

US-POLITICS-CEOState Senate Democrats won’t let him fill a vacancy on the New Jersey Supreme Court because they don’t want a Republican majority on the court, Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, said at a town hall-style meeting.

Christie volunteered his opinion in the context of replying to a question about school funding and its impact on property taxes. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Christie “described his fight over a school-funding formula that the Supreme Court has upheld as the biggest frustration of his tenure.”

Members of the New Jersey Supreme Court are appointed by the governor, subject to Senate confirmation, similar to Washington-style judicial selection.

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Opinion: Don’t Confirm Obama’s Appeals Court Judges

Capitol_domeIn a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Curt Levey, president of the conservative legal group the Committee for Justice, proposes that Senate Republicans refuse to confirm President Obama’s appeals courts nominees to force Obama to back down on his executive orders on immigration.

Levey’s proposal envisions a dual attack on Obama’s circuit-court nominees, on the one hand blocking their confirmation in order to gain political leverage on the immigration issue while at the same time halting “his leftward transformation of the circuit courts.”

The commentary is available through Google searching. It is entitled, “Immigration Push Back: Don’t Confirm His Judges. Here’s a strategy that would unite Republicans and get Obama’s attention in a way that shutdowns don’t.”

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Appeals Judge Confirmed Amid More Debate Over KS Selection

14199050The Kansas Senate voted 31 to 9 to confirm Kathryn Gardner to the state Court of Appeals, at the same time the Senate’s leading Democrat voiced concerns about using a Washington-style model for selecting judges.

Former federal court law clerk Gardner was Gov. Sam Brownback’s second nominee under the Washington-style process adopted by the legislature for picking Court of Appeals judges, supplanting a merit selection system. The legislature now is considering whether to dismantle merit selection for state Supreme Court justices.

“Merit-based selections of judicial appointments ensure qualified candidates for our judiciary. The federal model ensures partisan outcomes,” said Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, according to a Topeka Capital-Journal article.  Read more

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Despite Grilling, Nominee for Kansas Appeals Court Advances

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s latest nominee for the state Court of Appeals, attorney Kathryn Gardner, received a cool reception at a hearing of the state Senate Judiciary Committee, yet it ultimately approved her nomination.

She is Brownback’s second nominee for the court since the Kansas legislature jettisoned a merit selection process for these appellate judges and gave the governor direct appointment authority, subject to Senate confirmation. A bill to revise the new process and make public the names of all applicants for the court has passed the Senate and awaits House action. Read more

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Meltdown for Pennsylvania Court Nominee Package

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s package of two nominees for the state Supreme Court has collapsed. His Republican nominee withdrew after a questionable email surfaced, and the Republican-led Senate then canceled a scheduled confirmation hearing for the Democrat.

After the withdrawal by Judge Thomas Kistler and the likely halt of any action to confirm Ken Gormley, a dean at the Duquesne University School of Law in Pittsburgh, Wolf said he planned no further nominations. Elections will be held this year for three seats on the court, which currently has five members and a 3-2 Republican majority. Read more

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Nominee for Pennsylvania Supreme Court Withdraws Name

BULLETIN: Judge Thomas Kistler announced on Monday he was withdrawing his name from consideration for a Pennsylvania Supreme Court vacancy, according to the Centre Daily Times. He alluded to circumstances that have newly altered the legal system in Centre County.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s state Supreme Court nominees, Duquesne University School of Law Dean Ken Gormley and Centre County President Judge Thomas Kistler, are facing a swirl of controversy.

News accounts said Judge Kistler was getting scrutiny over an email that he apparently forwarded with what critics questioned as a racially insensitive email. According to Pennlive.com, “An image in the email, bearing the message ‘Merry Christmas from the Johnsons,’ showed an African-American couple hugging for the camera in a prison visitation scene.”

Gormley was facing questions involving a lawsuit filed against him and the university by a female law professor, which was settled, and its terms were not disclosed. News coverage about the nominees’ possible troubles appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Tribune-Review, The Patriot-News and The Centre Daily Times. Judge Kistler Read more

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Pennsylvania Governor Makes Two State Supreme Court Appointments

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf

On Wednesday, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf nominated a law school dean and county judge to serve as interim Supreme Court Justices. Ken Gormley, Dean of Duquesne University School of Law and Thomas King Kistler, President Judge of Centre County were selected in collaboration with state Senate leaders, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Lynn Marks, the Executive Director of Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts, a Justice at Stake partner organization, said both nominees are “highly qualified” and “very ethical.” Marks explained that ethics are of utmost importance in the state because of the “recent turmoil” on the Supreme Court.

Read more

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Editorial Slams ‘Closed Process’ for Choosing Some Kansas Judges

Seal_of_Kansas.svgIn Gov. Sam Brownback’s recent nomination of a Court of Appeals judge, are Kansans getting a glimpse of a “completely closed process” that could similarly result if state Supreme Court selection was revamped? A Lawrence Journal-World editorial makes that case.

The editorial is entitled, “Closed again: The closed process Gov. Brownback is using to fill vacancies on the Kansas Court of Appeals should serve as a warning to Kansans.” Last week, Brownback appointed attorney Kathryn Gardner to the Court of Appeals under a new law that got rid of judicial screening commission process, and the editorial says the governor’s office declined to make public the names of applicants for the post. The editorial concludes:

“If the governor had his way, the same system would be used to appoint Kansas Supreme Court justices, but that would require both the Legislature and the voters of Kansas to approve a constitutional amendment. When advocates try to sell that amendment as a more democratic and open way to select state judges, Kansans should remember the closed process Brownback has instituted for Court of Appeals appointments.”

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Brownback Makes Second Court Appointment Under New Law

urlKansas Gov. Sam Brownback has announced his nomination of Kathryn Gardner to the state Court of Appeals. She has served as a longtime law clerk to a federal judge, as an assistant attorney general and as a lawyer in private practice.

It was the second time Brownback has nominated a Court of Appeals judge under a new law that eliminated a judicial nominating commission screening process, called merit selection. Before the Republican-dominated legislature dumped that process, Gardner applied for two different openings on the appeals court, the Associated Press reported.  She was not recommended by the commission as a finalist either time.

Brownback called the nominee thoughtful and intelligent. He noted that she writes cowboy poetry and called her a “renaissance woman.” Her nomination must be confirmed by the state Senate. Read more

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