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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.


Defenders of Wildlife

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16 Environmental Organizations (including Defenders of Wildlife) Call on Senate to Hold Up or Down Vote on Supreme Court Nominee, Merrick Garland (07/15/16)
Backed by 16 environmental organizations, this letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Harry Reid calls on the United States Senate to commit to doing its job by holding an up or down vote on the President's Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland. For the protection of our air, water, wildlife and lands, a strong and intact judicial system is as important as ever.

Defenders of Wildlife & 42 other national groups letter to Senate Judiciary Chairman Grassley on growing backlog of circuit and district court nominations (04/07/16)
"[W]e write to express our dismay with the failure of the Judiciary Committee to address a growing backlog of federal judicial nominations. With only 16 judges confirmed so far, the 114th Congress is on pace to have the lowest number of judges confirmed since the 82nd Congress in 1951-1952."

17 National Environmental Groups (including Defenders of Wildlife) CEOs' Letter to Sens. McConnell & Reid on Filling the Supreme Court Vacancy (03/08/16)
"President Obama has announced that he will nominate a replacement for the vacancy on the Supreme Court bench left by the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia, and we believe the President has a clearly prescribed constitutional responsibility to do so. On behalf of our millions of members and supporters, we call on the United States Senate to commit to doing its job by conducting fair confirmation hearings and holding a timely vote on that nominee.... There is ample precedent for a nominee to be confirmed in election years, even when the Senate and White House are controlled by opposite political parties. Willful obstructionism is simply a dereliction of duty, .... For the protection of our air, water, wildlife and lands, a strong and intact judiciary system is as important as ever."

Letter from 48 Marquette University Law School [WI] and University of Wisconsin Law School law professors to Sen. Ron Johnson (02/23/16)
"We write today to urge you to return your blue slip for Seventh Circuit nominee Donald K. Schott and seek prompt consideration of his nomination by the Senate Judiciary Committee and full Senate. President Obama nominated Mr. Schott on January 12 after the bipartisan Wisconsin Federal Nominating Commission, with commissioners appointed by both you and Senator Tammy Baldwin, found that he is qualified to fill this important and longstanding judicial vacancy. This vacancy is now the oldest on any court of appeals in the country, and we believe that further delay poses a serious risk to both the federal justice system in Wisconsin and the integrity of the judicial selection process.... With a well-qualified nominee who has the bipartisan support of your selection commission, there is no justification for further delay in filling this important seat."

Philadelphia Bar Assn. letter to Sens. Casey & Toomey on Third Circuit and PA district court vacancies (02/05/16)
The workload of the courts in the Third Circuit requires a full complement of judges. A single vacancy is a burden on the courts, and multiple vacancies inevitably lead to delays in the dispensation of justice for thousands of Pennsylvanians. Although we appreciate your support of the elevation of the Honorable Luis Felipe Restrepo to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, his confirmation process was inordinately delayed, leaving a seat on that Court unfilled for more than two and one half years. In our United States District Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Pennsylvania, the delay in confirmation of nominees for judicial office has reached a crisis level. Four District Court seats have remained vacant since 2013. Highly respected jurists have been nominated to fill these positions, but the Senate has dragged its heels in confirming them.... the Third Circuit Court of Appeals seat held by Judge Marjorie O. Rendell has been vacant since July 1, 2015, without any nomination. Judge Restrepo’s elevation to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals also leaves another vacancy on the Eastern District Court to which no nominee has been announced. It is time to break the gridlock in the nomination and confirmation process for federal judgeships. We call on you to work with President Obama to ensure the speedy nomination of well-qualified candidates for seats on our federal courts. We further call upon you to swiftly and efficiently shepherd these nominations and all pending nominations through the Senate confirmation process. Pennsylvanians deserve nothing less."

Bipartisan letter from 17 Past Presidents of the State Bar of Wisconsin to Sens. Chuck Grassley, Ron Johnson & Tammy Baldwin (01/30/16)
"The undersigned, past presidents of the State Bar of Wisconsin, urge your consideration of the most recently nominated judicial candidate for the 7th Circuit, Donald Schott. The vacancy for which Mr. Schott has been nominated was created when Judge Terence Evans took senior status in 2010. Judge Evans passed away in 2011.... This longstanding vacancy places higher demands on the remaining judges, results in Wisconsin based disputes being resolved without judges from Wisconsin serving on the panel, and slower times to resolution of disputes. We ask that you take up this nomination and give the candidate a vote as soon as possible. Delaying consideration of this nominee hurts the judicial system and the people of the State of Wisconsin."

American Bar Association letter to Senate leaders: vote on 15 judicial nominees before recess for the year (12/02/15)
"On behalf of the American Bar Association, I write to urge you to schedule votes on the confirmation of 15 nominees pending on the Senate floor before the Senate recesses for the year. Seven of the pending nominees have the backing of their Republican home-state senators and all 15 have been reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee by unanimous voice votes. Most importantly, if confirmed, nine of the pending nominees would fill vacancies that have been declared judicial emergencies by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Courts with emergency vacancies have too few judges to handle their workload effectively and deliver timely justice."

Letter on Court of Federal Claims caseload (07/22/15)
Letter to Sen. McConnell from Lewis S. Wiener, President, United States Court of Federal Claims Bar Association 2002, 2014: "Senator Grassley, as part of his thorough due diligence on behalf of the Senate's Judiciary Committee at the outset of this year, closely examined the issue of the Court's case load, including utilization of the Court's senior judges. Ultimately, Senator Grassley's office directly contacted the Court, obtained relevant information, and the five nominees to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims were reported favorably out of the Judiciary Committee by voice vote on February 26, 2015. ... this letter reiterates the prior urgent request that the five pending nominees be confirmed without further delay to allow the Court to again function at full speed."

City Council of Pittsburgh adopted Resolution 2015-1635 (05/12/15)
WHEREAS, a longtime vacancy on the federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers federal appeals in Pennsylvania and two other states) has been designated a “judicial emergency” by the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts, and a second vacancy is scheduled to open on July 1, which threatens Pennsylvanians’ access to justice; and ... last Wednesday, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on pending judicial nominations, the first one in 8 weeks. Federal District Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo, nominee for Third Circuit vacancy, was not on the list of nominees. Despite the fact that Judge Restrepo has the support of both Senators Casey and Toomey and is entirely qualified for the job, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley has refused to hold a hearing for him; ... NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the City Council of Pittsburgh supports a strong judiciary, and calls on Pennsylvania Senator Toomey to return the blue slip on Judge Restrepo immediately, ask Senator Grassley to schedule his hearing in order to fill the emergency judicial vacancy on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, and work to ensure a speedy confirmation before July 1. BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a copy of this Will of Council shall be sent to U.S. Senator Patrick S. Toomey."

Hispanic National Bar Association Urges Consideration of the Nomination of the Honorable Luis Felipe Restrepo to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (05/07/15)
Letter to Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA): "to request that you urge the Senate Judiciary Committee to swiftly consider the nomination of the Honorable Luis Felipe Restrepo to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. As you know, President Obama nominated Judge Restrepo to the District Court in 2013. Subsequently, the Senate unanimously confirmed Judge Restrepo in accordance with your and Senator Casey’s recommendation. Despite your and Senator Casey’s support of the nomination of Judge Restrepo to the Third Circuit, and despite the fact that he already recently went through the same detailed vetting process for the District Court, the nomination has been awaiting committee consideration for six months, with no hearing scheduled to date. Meanwhile, the seat he will fill on the Third Circuit has been vacant for eighteen months and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has declared a “judicial emergency” for appeals out of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware."

Letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: Immediate Action Needed on Judicial Nominations to the United States Court of Federal Claims (05/01/15)
"We, the undersigned [five] past presidents of the United States Court of Federal Claims Bar Association, respectfully urge Congress to confirm the nominations of the five nominees to the United States Court of Federal Claims: Armando Omar Bonilla, Nancy B. Firestone (reappointment), Thomas L. Halkowski, Patricia M. McCarthy and Jeri Kaylene Somers."

Hispanic National Bar Association Urges Consideration of the Nomination of the Honorable Luis Felipe Restrepo to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (04/30/15)
Letter to Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley: "to urge the Senate Judiciary Committee to swiftly consider the nomination of the Honorable Luis Felipe Restrepo to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.... Judge Restrepo was unanimously confirmed by the Senate by voice vote for his current seat in the Eastern District just two years ago. Despite that, his nomination has been awaiting committee consideration for over five months, and in that time, the seat he will fill on the Third Circuit has become a judicial emergency."