Gavel Grab

Archive for the 'Judicial Nominations' Category

Judicial Vacancies in AL Could Increase

A deal to fill what will in May be four federal court vacancies in Alabama is still being negotiated, and there’s a chance the number of vacant judgeships could go up to six.

The Montgomery Advertiser reports that President Obama has been given names but the administration is still consulting with the state’s two Republican senators, Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby. Sessions said a meeting last week was cordial but gave no further insight into a timeline, denying that they are stalling until after the 2016 Presidential election.

Rep. Terri Sewell, the lone Democrat in the Alabama congressional delegation, hopes the nominees will bring diversity to the bench.

“I am committed to increasing the diversity of the federal bench in Alabama so that it reasonably reflects our state’s African-American population, and I hope that Sens. Shelby and Sessions continue to work with President Obama to fill these vacancies,” he said.

 

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Reappointment of Connecticut Chief Justice Advances in Legislature

The Connecticut Senate has voted to reconfirm Chief Justice Chase Rogers for a new eight-year term, despite earlier objections raised by some activists (see Gavel Grab). Now her reconfirmation awaits a House vote.

Lawmakers from both parties have supported Chief Justice Rogers, saying the changes she has made for the state’s courts are positive. Those changes include making the courts friendlier for the public to use and also electronic filing, the Associated Press reported.

 

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Senate Unanimously Confirms Federal Judge for Texas

Judge Bennett

Judge Bennett

Alfred Bennett, presiding judge for the 61st Civil District Court of Texas, was confirmed 95-0 by the U.S. Senate on Monday for a federal district court judgeship. It was the first judicial confirmation vote taken by the Senate this year.

A San Antonio Express-News report said Texas has 11 judicial vacancies, more than any other state, and confirmation votes on two other judicial nominees for the federal judiciary in Texas remain in limbo.

“Majority Leader McConnell and Senator Charles Grassley, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, need to oil the judicial confirmation machinery they’ve allowed to rust over since they’ve taken control, and get the gears of justice moving efficiently again,” said Judith Schaeffer, vice president of the Constitutional Accountability Center. Read more

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Of ‘Slow-Walking’ U.S. Judicial Nominees, and Dozens of Vacancies

United_States_Capitol_dome_daylightThe Senate was expected to vote Monday on confirming Alfred H. Bennett as a U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Texas. If he is confirmed, it will be the first such vote taken by the Senate this year, according to a Huffington Post article.

Jennifer Bendery reports that not only are Republicans “slow-walking” judicial nominees, but “Many district and circuit courts have judicial vacancies that don’t even have nominees in the queue, and some spots have been open for an incredibly long time.”

Some of the longest-vacant judgeships that she mentions among 39 openings without nominees: For the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, more than nine years; for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, more than five years; for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, 1,409 days, and for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, 982 days.

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Connecticut Chief Justice is Targeted by Activists

hc-chase-rogers-nomination-controversy-2015040-001Activists unhappy with Connecticut courts, whether the family court, probate courts, or the foreclosure process, are training their sights on Chief Justice Chase Rogers and calling for rejection of her reappointment.

The Hartford Courant reports that when a legislative committee holds a confirmation hearing on Friday, dozens of activists are expected to attend. Initially appointed to the high court by a Republican governor, she recently was renominated by Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

“She is the CEO of the company, and she sets the policies for all of the other judges to follow,” said Louis Roman, a critic of the Chief Justice who has had a foreclosure case pending for more than a decade. Read more

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Article: Too Few Judges Means Big Civil Case Backlogs in U.S. Courts

Backlogs of civil suits involving such issues as civil rights, personal injury and Social Security benefits are piling up in some federal courts around the nation, leading to justice delayed, a Wall Street Journal article says.

“Behind the backlog is a combination of population shifts, politics and a surge in the number of federal prisoners,” the newspaper reports. These federal prisoners — who have increased more than 50 percent in number since 1999 — file more lawsuits and challenges to their convictions. In Congress, efforts to create new judgeships, or shift judgeships to faster-growing regions where they are most need, have run into political resistance, and some judicial vacancies caught in political gridlock have gone unfilled for more than a year.

The number of pending civil cases had climbed to a record of more than 330,000  as of last October, an increase of nearly 20 percent since 2004. Last month, the  Judicial Conference of the United States asked Congress to create 68 new U.S. trial court judgeships. Read more

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Former Texas Chief Justice a Potential U.S. Supreme Court Pick?

Jefferson_Justice_Wallace_2008_Former Texas Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson, who has advocated for merit selection as a means to preserve fair and impartial courts (see Gavel Grab), is touted in a Houston Chronicle column as a potential pick for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Rick Casey describes Jefferson as an individual of stature who made it his practice to follow the rule of law, who was initially appointed by a Republican governor, and who could pass muster with a Republican-controlled U.S. Senate if President Obama is faced with filling a high court vacancy.

“Republicans could easily do worse than Jefferson, who often ruled for insurance companies and big businesses over plaintiffs,” Casey writes. “But he has also shown considerable concern for the little guy.”

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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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