Trump Adding to Judicial Candidates List; Arbitration Clauses Criticized

A general view of the U.S. Supreme Court in WashingtonEXPANDED TRUMP LIST OF POTENTIAL COURT PICKS: Debate about filling a longterm vacancy on the Supreme Court, and additional vacancies that might arise in the next few years, is expected to intensify amid news reports that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is adding to his list of potential candidates.

NBC reported the list, including Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah and a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee (who “swiftly shot down the idea,” according to Politico); Neil Gorsuch, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit; Margaret Ryan, a judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Services who clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas; Iowa Supreme Court Justice Edward Mansfield; Georgia Supreme Court Justice Keith Blackwell; Florida Supreme Court Justice Charles Canady; Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Young; Tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Timothy Tymkovich; Judge Amul Thapar of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky; and Judge Federico Moreno of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Trump had earlier released another list of 11 names of potential high court picks.

Bloomberg said the new names were to be formally released today. A Bloomberg BNA article, meanwhile, about the Supreme Court as an issue in the 2016 election, reported, “For the first time in a long time, the presidential and Senate races are about Supreme Court nominees for many people,” according to Mark C. Miller, of Clark University, Worcester, Mass., a judicial politics professor.

ARBITRATION CLAUSES AND WELLS FARGO: A fake account scandal at Wells Fargo & Co. (see Gavel Grab for background) continues to generate media coverage about forced arbitration clauses shielding banks from class-action lawsuits by customers.

“Customers who had bank or credit card accounts opened in their name without their knowledge face an uphill battle even getting a court to hear their case because of mandatory arbitration contract clauses that protect banks from class-action suits, consumer advocates say,” NBC reported about the Wells Fargo scandal fallout.

At USNews.com, Dean Clancy wrote in a commentary, “It transpires that, to avoid lawsuits, the San Francisco-based megabank has been invoking boilerplate clauses in its customers’ bank account contracts that say the customer cannot sue the company but rather must take their complaints to private, binding arbitration. Arbitrators are notoriously less favorable to customer-plaintiffs than are juries.” And focusing on the arbitration clauses, a Huffington Post article was headlined, “The Infuriating Reason Wells Fargo Got Away With Its Massive Scam For So Long.”

You can learn more about this issue by reading the Justice Watch blog post of our sister organization, Alliance for Justice, titled, “Why the Wells Fargo Scandal Shows the Need to End Forced Arbitration.”

‘REGULAR ORDER’ AND JUDICIAL NOMINATIONS: Senate GOP leaders can start rectifying the [judicial] vacancy crisis and restoring regular order by according all nominees on the floor votes before leaving to campaign” this fall, law professor Carl Tobias of the University of Richmond urged in a (Louisville) Courier-Journal op-ed. The GOP has made promises to restore “regular order” in its business but has fallen short on confirming judicial nominees, Tobias wrote.

Regarding the judicial vacancy that’s gotten the most national attention — the one on the Supreme Court — The Hill reported, “Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) blocked a bipartisan animal abuse bill on Thursday amid a stalemate over Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.” President Obama’s nominee for the high court has been waiting more than six months for a hearing, in the face of a Senate Republican blockade.