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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.


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Letter to the Senate from 22 women’s organizations; reproductive health, rights and justice organizations; and civil rights organizations in strong opposition to the nomination of Damien Schiff to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (07/17/17)
"Mr. Schiff, a prolific blogger and attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation, is stunningly unfit for the federal bench. As an initial matter, his record amply demonstrates his lack of judicial temperament. He has impugned advocates whose views he does not share,1 raising serious questions about whether he will treat all litigants coming before him with respect and impartiality. He has made numerous outrageous and inflammatory statements, including referring to Justice Anthony Kennedy as “a judicial prostitute,”2 which are inconsistent with the judicial role. In addition, Mr. Schiff has demonstrated hostility to core women’s rights and civil rights, raising serious doubts as to whether he would approach these and related issues with an open mind, follow precedents with which he disagrees, and decide cases involving those issues strictly based on the law and the facts."

Letter to the Senate: 27 National LGBT Groups Oppose Confirmation of John K. Bush and Damien Schiff (07/17/17)
"We, the undersigned 27 national advocacy organizations, representing the interests of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and everyone living with HIV, write to oppose the nomination of John Kenneth Bush to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and the nomination of Damien Schiff to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. After reviewing the records of Mr. Bush and Mr. Schiff, we have concluded that their views on civil rights issues are fundamentally at odds with the notion that LGBT people are entitled to equality, liberty, justice and dignity under the law. Although neither Mr. Bush nor Mr. Schiff has any judicial experience, their public statements and writings have repeatedly demonstrated not only an extraordinary lack of judgment but also plain contempt for the rights of LGBT Americans, people living with HIV, women, and other vulnerable populations. Their evasive responses to straightforward questions from your colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee only confirmed our assessment that they should never have been nominated—and should not be confirmed—for a lifetime appointment on the federal bench."

National Women’s Law Center letter to Senate Judiciary Committee urging Senators to oppose the nomination of Damien Schiff to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. (07/06/17)
"Mr. Schiff is spectacularly unfit for the federal bench. A prolific blogger, Mr. Schiff has made numerous intemperate statements, including referring to Justice Anthony Kennedy as “a judicial prostitute, ‘selling’ his vote as it were to four other Justices in exchange for the high that comes from aggrandizement of power and influence, and the blandishments of the fawning media and legal academy.”1 He has also impugned advocates whose views he does not share,2 raising serious questions about whether he will treat all litigants coming before him with respect and impartiality. Mr. Schiff has expressed an extremely troubling view of the role of the judiciary as the driver of policy"

National Women’s Law Center letter to Senate Judiciary Committee urging Senators to oppose the nomination of John K. Bush to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (07/06/17)
"Mr. Bush has taken legal positions and expressed legal views that will make it virtually impossible for many who come before him as litigants, including women, to believe that he will give them a fair and impartial hearing. In addition, his statements demonstrate that he lacks the temperament to serve in a lifetime position on the federal bench."

NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) letter to Senate Judiciary Chairman and Ranking Member opposing confirmation of John K. Bush to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. (06/28/17)
"Mr. Bush’s regressive views on civil rights issues, intemperate rhetoric, extreme partisanship, and lack of sound judgment render him unfit to serve with life tenure on the federal bench"

NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman and Ranking Member opposing confirmation of Damien M. Schiff to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. (06/28/17)
"This is not a normal, business-as-usual judicial nomination. Mr. Schiff’s views are so radical, and his qualifications to serve as a judge so lacking, that his nomination can only be understood as part of this administration’s broader attack on civil rights and government regulation."

National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) letter to Senate leaders in strong opposition to the nomination of Damien M. Schiff to the US Court of Federal Claims. (06/21/17)
"He is well known for disparaging members of the bench, even going so far as to label Justice Anthony Kennedy a ‘judicial prostitute’ for his swing votes on various cases. Schiff wrote an anonymous 2009 piece entitled “Teaching ‘gayness’ in public schools,” where he railed against the anti-bullying lesson plan of a California school district."

AFL-CIO letter urging Senators to oppose to the nomination of Damien Schiff to the United States Court of Federal Claims (06/13/17)
"Damien Schiff has a record that demonstrates unbridled hostility toward worker rights. He has argued that the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) is unconstitutional.... the Senate Judiciary Committee must thoroughly review Mr. Schiff’s record, which includes a blog posting that characterized Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy as a “judicial prostitute.” Americans deserve an open-minded and fair judge on the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, not one whose intemperate writing reflects a monumental lack of judgement."

Letter from eleven national organizations to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman and Ranking Member strongly urging rejection of Damien Schiff nomination to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (06/13/17)
"On behalf of our organizations and their millions of members, we strongly urge you to reject the nomination of Damien Schiff to the United States Court of Federal Claims (CFC). Mr. Schiff has devoted most of his career to advancing an extreme judicial ideology that opposes virtually all forms of environmental safeguards at the federal, state and local levels that are designed to protect the public good. A large part of his career focuses on challenging and redefining the legal precedents regarding what forms of government actions represent “takings” that must be compensated by the federal government under the Constitution. Under Mr. Schiff’s view, nearly all environmental safeguards would qualify as takings, which would make it virtually impossible to protect our nation’s water and air from pollution and would allow most endangered species to slide to extinction.... what makes him unqualified to be a federal judge, are his tactics in public to personally demonize his opponents, to repeatedly call their motives into question, and to attack them in ideologically absolutist terms.... Mr. Schiff’s characterization of the role of government, of public servants, and of the laws themselves is equally hostile." [Letter signed by Amazon Watch; Animal Welfare Institute; Center for Biological Diversity; Center for Food Safety; Earthjustice; Endangered Species Coalition; Friends of Animals; International Marine Mammal Project of Earth Island Institute; Sierra Club; Western Watersheds Project; WildEarth Guardians]

League of Conservation Voters letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman and Ranking Member strongly urging them to oppose the judicial nomination of Damien Schiff to the US Court of Federal Claims. (06/13/17)
"[H]is track record reveals that he is an extreme nominee with bias and disdain for environmental safeguards that protect the air, water, and public health. Schiff’s strong criticism of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and his extreme view that the EPA should compensate property owners for losses in value resulting from the need to comply with new regulations, reveal that he lacks the proper temperament to serve in the judiciary.... Schiff statements are not only egregious but demonstrate prejudice against the EPA.... LCV strongly urges you to oppose the judicial nomination of Damien Schiff to the US Court of Federal Claims. We will strongly consider including this confirmation vote in the 2017 Scorecard."

Letter from 29 Environmental and Natural Resources Law Professors to Senate Judiciary Chairman and Ranking Member strongly urging them to reject Nomination of Damien Schiff to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (06/13/17)
"Mr. Schiff has demonstrated an extraordinary level of vituperative partisanship, has frequently advocated positions falling well outside long established jurisprudential norms, and has shown little regard for the role of Congress as the nation’s primary lawmaker. We therefore fear that Mr. Schiff would seek to use a federal judicial post to advance a narrow partisan agenda rather than fairly adjudicate and decide issues of law.... Mr. Schiff has consistently used extreme rhetoric to personally demonize both his opponents in court and the federal government itself."

Letter to Senate Judiciary Committee from 16 national advocacy organizations, representing the interests of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and everyone living with HIV to oppose the nomination of John Kenneth Bush to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and the nomination of Damien Schiff to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. (06/12/17)
"After reviewing the records of Mr. Bush and Mr. Schiff, we have concluded that their views on civil rights issues are fundamentally at odds with the notion that LGBT people are entitled to equality, liberty, justice and dignity under the law. Although neither Mr. Bush nor Mr. Schiff has any judicial experience, their public statements and writings have repeatedly demonstrated contempt for LGBT Americans, people living with HIV, women, and other vulnerable populations."

Natural Resources Defense Council letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman and Ranking Member on nomination of Damien Schiff to the Court of Federal Claims (06/12/17)
"Mr. Schiff’s writings frequently attack and denigrate environmental safeguards and the citizens and agencies that seek to enforce them. This perspective, combined with indications that he may bring an extremely rigid judicial philosophy to the court, raises serious questions about whether he will fairly assess cases involving public health and environmental protections.... Schiff does not reserve his derision for government agencies and environmental groups, but extends it to laws Congress has adopted to protect the environment.... Schiff likewise has advocated for an activist judiciary to implement his views."

National Center for Lesbian Rights letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman and Ranking Member in opposition to the confirmation of Damien Schiff and John K. Bush to the federal bench (06/09/17)
"It is difficult to imagine, however, that any lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender plaintiff would be accorded the respect and fair treatment they deserve if they came before nominees Bush or Schiff. Both of these individuals have extensive records of public writings and publicly expressed views of LGBT people that render them unfit to serve in a role that requires impartial judgment."

People for the American Way letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman and Ranking Member in strong opposition to the confirmation of John K. Bush to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (06/09/17)
'[B]ased on Bush’s substantive legal positions and the toxic way he engaged in political discourse while hiding behind a mask of anonymity, it is astonishing that he was even nominated. On legal issues, we are alarmed by some of his comments regarding money in politics.... he made the obvious analytic mistake of thinking that voluntary donations to public funding are, in fact, involuntary. And even if the public funding came from ordinary tax income, his constitutional theory has no support in case law and would serve only to worsen an already serious crisis facing our democracy.... Perhaps even more ominous are Bush’s comments on freedom of the press and freedom of speech about public figures. He has criticized New York Times v. Sullivan, the seminal Supreme Court case protecting media and reporters from defamation suits from government officials they anger, strongly suggesting it was incorrectly decided.... Aside from the substance of his beliefs, the manner in which he has communicated them are not even close to appropriate for someone now seeking to be a federal judge.

National Council of Jewish Women letter to Senate and Judiciary Committee leaders in strong opposition to the nomination of John K. Bush to the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. (06/09/17)
"The confirmation of this extreme right-wing partisan nominee to the federal bench by President Donald Trump would not only threaten the rights of women, but would also contribute to the weakening of the judicial branch as a voice for balance and fairness.... his language is so inflammatory and offensive that it disqualifies him for a lifetime appointment to the federal bench."

Demos, Every Voice, and People for the American Way letter to Senate Judiciary Committee (06/09/17)
"We the undersigned organizations write to oppose the confirmation of John K. Bush to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit due to his troubling views on the issue of money in politics. We also express here our concern about Damien Schiff’s nomination to the Court of Federal Claims. ... Damien Schiff’s views on money-in-politics are equally disturbing. The Court of Federal Claims does not rule on relevant cases, but can be a launching point for future judicial appointments so we feel compelled to register our concerns at this stage."

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman and Ranking Member in strong opposition to the confirmation of Damien M. Schiff to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. (06/09/17)
"It is difficult to fathom a nominee less deserving of a judicial confirmation than Damien Schiff.... Mr. Schiff’s writings demonstrate that he is completely lacking in an ability to serve as a neutral arbiter and to apply the law fairly and dispassionately."

Defenders of Wildlife letter to Senate Judiciary Chairman and Ranking Member urging opposition to nomination of Damien Schiff to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (06/08/17)
"His prolific published writings and public statements ... display a consistent hostility to government efforts to address environmental problems-- from the Endangered Species Act to the Clean Water Act to climate change measures-- and a shameful willingness to impugn the motives of those who support such measures. In every respect, Mr. Schiff's background reveals an intensely committed ideologue who lacks the temperament to be a fair and neutral federal judge."

People for the American Way Letter to Senate Judiciary Committee strong opposition to the confirmation of Damien Schiff to U.S. Court of Federal Claims. (06/08/17)
"Schiff has spent much of his career litigating against environmental regulations or agency actions, demonstrating an ideological agenda in an area of importance to the Court of Federal Claims. This is particularly problematic because it has taken place against a background of statements ridiculing and impugning the motives of environmentalists.... A nominee cannot malign an entire class of litigants and then expect to be confirmed to any court, .... Schiff’s blog posts are the epitome of the coarse, strident political dialogue that the Chairman stated he was worried about. His baseless and inflammatory attacks against environmentalists are just an example of that. Perhaps most notorious is Schiff’s very personal and vulgar attack on Justice Anthony Kennedy,"

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman and Ranking Member in opposition to the confirmation of John K. Bush to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (06/07/17)
"Mr. Bush has a record of extreme partisanship and does not appear to possess the temperament needed to serve as an impartial federal judge. ... In light of Mr. Bush’s extreme record, The Leadership Conference urges you to reject the nomination of Mr. Bush to the Sixth Circuit."

Federal Bar Association Letter to Sens. McConnell & Reid Re: Action on Pending District Court Nominees (09/19/16)
"On behalf of the thousands of lawyers who practice in the federal courts, I write to urge you to schedule floor votes on the 20 district court nominees pending on the Senate calendar. These nominees are noncontroversial and have waited significant periods of time for the Senate to act upon their nominations. They have been reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee without dispute, and we believe that the process merits them a prompt up-or-down vote."... We note that the corresponding judgeships of more than one-third (7 of 20) of the judicial nominees who await a final Senate vote are considered “judicial emergencies” by the United States Judicial Conference because of their high caseloads and/or the significant amount of time the judgeship has remained vacant. Action on these nominees is especially warranted. Plainly the lack of sufficient numbers of judges on our federal courts is costing our country in dollars and delay. It is money being needlessly wasted. This is not good for any litigant or the state of justice in our nation."

American Bar Association letter to Senate urging prompt floor votes on 20 pending district court nominees (09/06/16)
"I am writing on behalf of the American Bar Association to urge you to address the backlog of judicial vacancies by promptly scheduling floor votes on the 20 district court nominees pending on the Senate calendar. These nominees have waited a long time for an up-or-down vote: twelve were nominated over 300 days ago and six others were nominated over 200 days ago. The Senate Judiciary Committee found all 20 nominees to be fully qualified for life-time appointments and reported them to the Senate for final action with overwhelming bipartisan support. ...Over the course of this Congress, the number of judicial vacancies has almost doubled....With over ten percent of authorized judgeships now vacant, the prompt filling of vacancies is becoming a matter of increasing urgency. This is especially true for vacancies that have existed for so long and created such untenable workloads for the remaining judges on the court that the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has declared them to be judicial emergencies. ... This has real consequences for the financial well-being of businesses and for individuals who have to put their businesses and personal lives on hold while waiting for their day in court. ... we urge you to schedule at least six confirmation votes at a time, as you did in September 2011."

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."