In the News: AFJ, Other Groups Worry About Courts Under Next President

TIME RUNS OUT ON JUDICIAL NOMINATIONS: Remember attorney Abid Qureshi of Washington, D.C.? “[N]ominated to the federal bench by President Obama in the fall, [he] would have been the nation’s first Muslim federal judge had the Senate confirmed him. But nominated late in a presidential election year, when traditionally few nominees get a vote, time — and politics — were always against him,” BuzzFeed News reports in a piece on judicial nominations that quotes our sister organization, the Alliance for Justice.

“With the US Senate gone for the rest of the year, Qureshi is one of 52 nominees for federal district and appeals courts and the US Supreme Court who won’t make it onto the bench, at least for now. That group includes more than a dozen nominees who, like Qureshi, would have broken racial, gender, and religious barriers.” The nominations will be sent back by the Senate early next month, according to the article.

BuzzFeed adds, “Civil rights and liberal advocacy groups, heartened by President Obama’s focus on diversity in the courts, are frustrated with the Senate’s pace on his judicial nominees— and are worried about what the bench will look like under President-elect Donald Trump.” It notes, “Nan Aron, president of the liberal group Alliance for Justice, said diverse picks in southern federal courts were especially important because of the racial imbalance among judges in the region.”

The article also quotes Christopher Kang, national director of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, as saying, “The question moving forward is, as you look at President-elect Trump’s picks for his cabinet, the 21 picks for the Supreme Court, they are overwhelmingly white and male, and what does that mean for courts across the country with respect to diversity and really reflecting the nation and the communities that they serve.”

One of Trump’s 21 potential candidates for the high court, Utah Supreme Court Associate Chief Justice Thomas Rex Lee, is the subject of a Bloomberg BNA mini-profile. And at Bloomberg View, Noah Feldman writes that after the successful Senate Republican blockade of nominee Judge Merrick Garland, “Supreme Court Nominations Will Never Be the Same.”

SESSIONS’ NOMINATION FOR ATTORNEY GENERAL: The Associated Press reports, “A failed voting-fraud prosecution from more than 30 years ago could re-emerge as a contentious issue during Sen. Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearing for attorney general.” AFJ’s  Aron discussed the prosecution in a recent op-ed for The Hill. Other coverage and commentary includes Carole Joffe writing at The Hill, “Will Jeff Sessions protect abortion providers?”; Fox News, “Lobbying push in full swing to confirm Sessions as AG”; and Earl Ofari Hutchinson at Huffington Post, “Jeff Sessions Is The Final Step In The GOP Plan For Permanent National Political Control.”