Gavel Grab

Archive for the 'Judicial Nominations' Category

Senate Unanimously Confirms Judicial Nominee

The Senate voted unanimously on Monday to confirm state District Judge Rebecca Goodgame Ebinger of Iowa to a federal district court judgeship. She will become the second woman to serve in the Southern District of Iowa, The Gazette reported.

She is one of five judicial nominees for whom Senate Republican leaders agreed in December to hold confirmation votes before the Presidents’ Day break this month (see Gavel Grab).

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White House Asks Judge-Blocking Senator to Yield

The White House is pushing back against Sen. David Perdue of Georgia’s decision to block the nomination of Judge Dax Lopez to the federal bench, but it is not seen as likely to change the outcome.

“After being part of the process for selecting Judge Dax Lopez as a candidate, Sen. Perdue has now decided to block his candidacy,” a White House official told Politico. “Judge Lopez is a highly qualified candidate who enjoys deep support from both sides of the aisle, and we urge Sen. Perdue to drop his opposition and allow Judge Lopez to move forward in the process.”

If confirmed, Lopez would become the first Latino federal judge in Georgia. He belongs to the Federalist Society. But his involvement with the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials has resulted in Perdue targeting him over the group’s stance on immigration and questioning whether Lopez would be impartial (see Gavel Grab). Read more

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Editorial: Partisan Politics on Judgeships Hurts Average Citizens

CapitolflagIt’s not the president that his Senate foes are hurting when they stall confirmation of federal judicial nominees, says an editorial in New Jersey’s The Record newspaper, it’s the American people that are harmed:

“Conservatives may think they’re hurting the president by doing this, but it’s not Obama who has to wait months or years to get his day in court with a judge whose staff is drowning in paperwork from such a heavy caseload. It’s average citizens waiting for their day in court, for justice to be served.”

While the editorial notes the Senate’s confirmation this week of a new federal judge for New Jersey (see Gavel Grab), it says the federal court system in the state has been deemed a “judicial emergency” for its caseload, and three of its 17 federal judgeships still are vacant. “While partisanship in Congress is hardly a new revelation, the strain it is putting on the federal court system is unacceptable,” the editorial says. 

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TN Legislature Wraps Up Approval of Judicial Confirmation Bill

The Tennessee House of Representatives has followed the state Senate in approving a bill that spells out details for legislative confirmation of top judges appointed by the governor.

The House approved the measure on Thursday, according to The Chattanoogan. It described the process this way: “If both chambers vote to confirm, the appointee is confirmed.  If both chambers vote to reject, the appointee is rejected.  Also, one chamber may reject the appointee by a two thirds vote.”

A constitutional amendment adopted in 2014 said appointees to the state’s top courts will require legislative confirmation, but it did not lay out a process.

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Senate Confirms Vazquez for Federal Bench in New Jersey

john-michael-vazquezThe Daily Signal reports that the Senate confirmed another of President Obama’s lifetime federal appointees. John Michael Vazquez was confirmed on a vote of 84-2 for the position of U.S. District Judge in New Jersey.

Acccording to the Latin Post, Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the only Latino Democrat in the Senate, said about the nominee, “In addition to intellect, judgment, temperament, observance to the rule of law and the separation of powers, he diversifies our Judiciary as a Hispanic American — something that I think is also very important to be able to have any American walk into any court in the land and believe that the possibility of someone like them may very well be sitting in judgment of them.”

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TN Legislature Weighs Plan for Confirming Appointed Judges

TennesseeThe Tennessee legislatures appears close to nailing down details of a compromise for legislative confirmation of top judges appointed by the governor, according to The Knoxville News Sentinel.

A constitutional amendment adopted in 2014 said appointees to the state’s top courts will require legislative confirmation, but it did not lay out a process. On Wednesday, the state Senate passed a bill spelling out the confirmation process, and the state House was likely to do so on Thursday, the newspaper said. It summed up the process this way:

“The compromise approved 33-0 by the Senate on Wednesday says confirmation will occur by default if only one house rejects the appointee — but if one house rejects by at least two-thirds of its members, the nominee is rejected, even if the other house votes unanimously to confirm.”

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Opinion: ‘Running out the Clock’ on Judicial Nominees?

Regarding delays in the Senate’s voting on President Obama’s judicial nominees, the authors of a Portland (Me.) Press Herald op-ed conclude  sadly: “If this were a game, we’d say one side is running out the clock.”

Eliza Townsend,  executive director of the Maine Women’s Policy Center, and Patty Weber, state policy adviser to the National Council of Jewish Women, say the federal courts do important work that affects millions of citizens. The authors lament 71 vacant federal judgeships and look at the Senate, facing a presidential election year, for action:

“Stalling might be a good political tactic, but it doesn’t serve justice. Americans want our government to function, we want to know that everyone in this country has a fair chance to be heard, and we want our elected officials to do the job they sought.” Read more

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Georgia Senator Will Not Support Judicial Nominee

Sen. Perdue

Sen. Perdue

Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue of Georgia says he will not support President Obama’s nomination of Dax Lopez, a DeKalb County State Court judge, for the federal bench. Perdue’s stance is almost certain to mean the nomination of Lopez will not advance.

According to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution blog, Perdue said he reviewed Lopez’s professional and judicial record and became “uncomfortable” with Lopez’s participation with the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials. “I am particularly concerned with his continued participation with this organization and his public comments after he became a state judge,” Perdue said.

If confirmed, Lopez would become the first Latino federal judge in Georgia. He is a Republican. He belongs to the Federalist Society. Other coverage came from The Associated Press. Read more

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Opinion: What’s the Impact of Political Bid to Remove VA Judge?

An attorney’s opinion  is the latest to assail brazen partisan politics in a Republican-led effort in the Virginia legislature to remove a high court judge who was appointed on an interim basis by Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

Joseph Condo, a past president of the Virginia State Bar, writes in the Charlottesville Daily Progress about the efforts to remove state Supreme Court Justice Jane Marum Roush, “After watching this display of political tit-for-tat, who will ever again accept a recess appointment?” Condo then adds:

“[W]hat of the citizenry’s respect for and confidence in the judiciary? Are the Virginians not justified in concluding that judicial appointments are not based on merit, but political favors or partisan paybacks?”

Read more

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New Faces for New York’s High Court

The Daily Voice reports that the Sate Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved Governor Andrew Cuomo’s nomination of Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore to be next chief judge of the New York Court of Appeals – the highest court in the state. DiFiore had served as Westchester district attorney since 2006.

State Sen. George Latimer, D-Rye, who serves on the Judiciary Committee, told the Daily Voice: “Judge DiFiore has proven, over three decades, that she has the legal skills, the administrative experience and the judicial temperament necessary to do an exceptional job as Chief Judge. I strongly support her confirmation.”

Meanwhile, the NY Daily News reported on DiFiore’s confirmation and noted that in response to questions about her views on gun control, she confirmed that she owns a gun and has a concealed-carry permit. The Daily News noted in the same piece that Cuomo also announced the nomination of former Manhattan U.S. Attorney, Michael Garcia, a Republican, to fill a second vacancy on the court on Wednesday.

“Garcia’s nomination is Cuomo’s sixth to the top court and the first time he’s chosen a Republican. The seven member court only has one current Republican — Judge Eugene Piggot,” the paper reported.

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