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Judging the Environment judicial nominations photo

A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Editorials and Opinion


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Fill the Kansas Tenth Circuit vacancy (Kansas City Star, 06/14/13)
Prof. Carl Tobias: "Obama cooperated with the Wyoming senators to nominate Wyoming Attorney General Gregory Phillips for Judge O’Brien’s seat, and the Senate will probably confirm Phillips in June, while the president worked closely with the Utah senators to nominate Utah Court of Appeals Judge Carolyn McHugh last week ... Obama did promptly nominate Steve Six, who earned a unanimously well-qualified ABA ranking, to Judge Tacha’s opening in March 2011. Mr. Six competently answered probing questions during his May hearing. Nevertheless, Kansas Republican Senators Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran chose to oppose Six before the panel could vote, and his nomination subsequently expired."

Filling the Tenth Circuit vacancies (The Hill, 02/14/13)
Carl Tobias: "the federal judiciary has 18 vacancies in 179 active appeals court judgeships and the Tenth Circuit experiences three in 12. These openings - ten percent systemwide and 25 in the Tenth Circuit - can erode justice."

Obama to fill four positions in 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (Topeka Capital-Journal [KS] , 12/29/12)
Robert Boczkiewicz: President Barack Obama has an opportunity that is stronger than ever to significantly shape the makeup of the federal appeals court that serves Kansas. The president has four spots — a number larger than usual in one year — to fill in 2013 on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, ... The president’s nominee for the Kansas seat, former state Attorney General Steve Six, never got a [vote] in 2011 from the Senate Judiciary Committee because of opposition from the state’s two Republican senators, Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran. ... The president’s nomination of Robert Bacharach, a U.S. District Court magistrate judge in Oklahoma City, to fill Henry’s seat was blocked throughout 2012 by Senate Republican leaders, despite support from the state’s two Republican senators.

Bipartisan Home-State Senator Pressure Could Ease Judicial Vacancy Crisis (American Constitution Society Blog, 09/20/11)
Glenn Sugameli: "Incredibly, Senate Floor votes on 27 judicial nominees are being blocked, four more than I decried in my September 2010 ACSblog guest post, "Federal Judicial Vacancy Crisis Deepens as Unnamed Senate Republicans Block Floor Votes on All 23 Pending Judicial Nominees." By next week, the Senate Judiciary Committee will raise the total to 32 by approving five more consensus nominees. The 92 current federal court vacancies are almost 50 more than the 44 I mentioned in my December 2008 ACSblog post. There are still 21 announced future vacancies, and current vacancies that the U.S. Courts have declared to be "judicial emergencies" have increased during President Obama’s term from 20 to 35."

Editorial: The Missing Judges (New York Times, 01/04/11)
"Justice Roberts is right to be concerned that mounting federal court vacancies are creating crushing caseloads in some jurisdictions and hampering courts’ ability to fulfill their vital role. ...Republicans typically refused to publicly explain their opposition to individual nominees and their prolonged blockade of candidates who had cleared the committee either unanimously or with just a couple of negative votes.... It gives Democrats something to consider as they weigh possible rules changes in the Senate to curb the auto-pilot filibusters and secret holds that mindlessly delay essential business, like the confirmation of federal judicial nominees. "

Editorial: Surprising outcome of lame-duck Congress; OUR OPINION: Waning days of session yield progress (Miami Herald, 12/26/10)
"Senate Republicans also agreed to confirm 19 Obama judicial nominees whose appointments had been languishing for months."

Steve Benen: "Obama, in the spirit of bipartisanship, tried to end the confirmation wars. Simultaneously, Republicans preferred a surge. There's been some movement of late, but the obstructionism on this has been extraordinary."

Fill the vacancies on the 10th Circuit bench  (Salt Lake Tribune [UT], 12/22/10)
Prof. Carl Tobias: "the Senate has failed to vote on nominee Matheson, who received a May hearing at which Hatch voiced enthusiastic support for Matheson, who won unanimous approval from the Judiciary Committee in June. The Senate has not held Matheson’s floor vote, and Obama has yet to nominate anyone for the Henry vacancy."

Wrapping It Up 2 (A plain blog about politics, 12/22/10)
Jonathan Bernstein: "Lots of judges are still waiting to be confirmed, including, as far as I can tell, quite a few who do not appear to be controversial -- and as I've said in the past, it's very possible that even the controversial appointees have 60 votes (not to mention the simple majority needed to confirm, but that's another story, of course)."

Jeff Sessions Rants Against Judicial Nominees With 'ACLU DNA' (VIDEO) (Talking Points Memo, 12/21/10)
Ryan J. Reilly: "Republicans have obstructed Obama's judicial nominees at a historic rate. "

Steve Benen: "The Senate has a constitutional obligation to consider judicial nominees, and a small Republican minority is calling the shots, agreeing which jurists will be "allowed" to receive votes, based on GOP graciousness. It's a reminder that the institution is in desperate need of reform. Nevertheless, remember when Senate Republicans spent six years whining incessantly about obstructionism of Bush's judicial nominees? Remember when they said failing to give up-or-down votes to these nominees tore at the very fabric of American democracy? They don't remember this at all."

Senate's unfinished work (San Francisco Chronicle [CA], 12/21/10)
Prof. Carl Tobias: "the 111th Senate at least should return to its convention of confirming well-qualified, noncontroversial nominees, such as the 26 whom the Senate Judiciary Committee approved and have waited months for Senate floor votes. The upper chamber should also grant thorough debate and yes or no votes for the four nominees, including UC Berkeley Law Professor Goodwin Liu and Magistrate Judge Edward Chen, whom the GOP finds controversial. The Senate must vote on all 26 nominees before it adjourns."

Editorial: Judicial nominees to federal bench deserve courtesy of a Senate vote (Fort Worth Star-Telegram [TX], 12/20/10)
"Where in the Constitution does it say the Senate shall sit on judicial nominations from the president until the majority and minority leaders compromise on who'll get a vote?... As Congress winds down its lame-duck session, the Senate has finally gotten around to confirming some of the more than 30 judicial nominations that were backlogged. But it appears that if Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell don't agree, others won't get even the courtesy of a vote. And that's shameful. Still waiting Monday were two Texans nominated to district judgeships in July: Diana Saldana for Laredo and Marina Garcia Marmolejo for Galveston.... Republicans have objected to a quartet of nominees they consider too liberal, including highly qualified University of California law professor Goodwin Liu, a Stanford University and Yale Law School graduate and Rhodes Scholar whose parents are Taiwanese immigrants. But if Republicans really believed what they said during the Bush years -- when Democrats were filibustering nominees they considered too conservative -- all nominees would get a vote. One of those waiting longest for Senate action is University of Utah law professor Scott Matheson"

The WonkLine: December 20, 2010  (Think Progress, 12/20/10)
"The Senate confirmed a small handful of judges this weekend, barely putting a dent in the enormous backlog of nominees GOP obstructionism has created."

Editorial: Sen. Merkley does the right thing: His group’s proposed rule change can save the Senate from dysfunctionality (Daily Astorian [OR], 12/20/10)
"hundreds of executive department nominations were not taken to a vote, and likewise for judicial nominations."

Senate confirms Minnesota judge... finally (MinnPost [MN], 12/18/10)
Derek Wallbank: "The Democrat-controlled Senate has confirmed just 49 district and circuit court nominations so far in the Obama presidency, Senate Judiciary Committee officials said — less than half of the number confirmed in the first session of George W. Bush's administration."

Judges held hostage  (Salt Lake Tribune [UT], 12/18/10)
"The thumb-down editorial “Vote on Matheson” (Our View, Dec. 5) explains how “the nomination of Scott M. Matheson Jr. to the bench of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is being held hostage to partisan gridlock” and exhorts Sen. Orrin Hatch to “publicly urge his Republican colleagues to bring this nomination to a vote.” The Senate should indeed vote on Matheson and on 37 other pending judicial nominees, 29 of which were unanimously cleared by the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which Hatch is a member. Seven of the cleared nominees who had one or more committee “no” votes are women, people of color, or both. Fairness, and the need to fill unprecedented numbers of judicial vacancies, argue for full Senate votes on all nominees." Published Letter to the Editor from Glenn Sugameli

Editorial: As We See It;: The Obstruction (Yankton Press & Dakotan [SD], 12/17/10)
THUMBS DOWN to the obstructionism that is going on in the Senate regarding nominations for federal judges. We remember the 2004 Senate race in South Dakota, when one of now-Sen. John Thune’s campaign themes was obstructionism of nominations by Senate Democrats. Republicans have taken it to a new level, and it’s creating a judicial crisis. Of President Barack Obama’s 103 district and circuit court nominees, 41 have been confirmed — less than 40 percent. Under former President George Bush, the Senate had confirmed 76 percent of his nominations by this time. For Clinton, it was 89 percent; and the first Bush and Reagan had 70 and 87 confirmations at this point, respectively. The more nominations that are held up, the more Americans looking for resolutions through the legal system suffer. In Denver, for example, where a panel is two judges short, each judge is responsible for 593 cases instead of 430. This is unacceptable.

ABA President-Elect Stresses Urgency of Filling Federal Court Vacancies  (American Constitution Society Blog, 12/16/10)
The vacancy rate on our federal courts has reached crisis level, and it's time to "shift from low gear into overdrive in order to turn this situation around and provide the judges that we need to serve the American people," American Bar Association President-Elect Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III told ACSblog during a video interview. "We have a growing concern that politics is overtaking the process and results are not being achieved," Robinson said. "And the public is just not being served."

Editorial: Congress must confirm judges (Denver Post [CO] , 12/16/10)
"Republicans are delaying and obfuscating in an effort to keep the Democratic administration from making appointments. ...Republicans need to get out of the way and allow up or down votes on judicial nominees, and Democrats need to muster the gumption to make that happen in the lame duck session."

Editorial: Advise and Obstruct (New York Times, 12/15/10)
"Senator Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, should allow confirmation of all 34 nominees considered noncontroversial, including the 15 nominees cleared by the committee since the November election. There are four other nominees who were approved by the committee over party-line Republican opposition. They, too, deserve a prompt vote"

Where are the Judicial Confirmations? (Polising: Jonathan Singer on politics, law and culture, 12/15/10)

The Most Neglected Branch: Obama's Judicial Nominees Need to Be Confirmed Now (Center for American Progress, 12/15/10)
Ian Millhiser: "Senate conservatives have bent over backwards to prevent President Barack Obama from elevating newer, more moderate voices while the federal judiciary is practically bursting at the seams with right-wing ideologues. Obama’s judges have been confirmed at only half the rate of President Bush’s and one third that of President Bill Clinton’s at the same point in their presidencies. Yet the right lacks one legitimate ideological objection to any of to the president’s nominees."

Blocking the Judiciary (Hold Fast blog, 12/15/10)

Forum: Give all judicial nominees a vote (Journal Star [Peoria, IL], 12/15/10)
By Glenn Sugameli: "The editorial details the causes and extent of the worsening federal judge vacancy crisis, but grudgingly suggests voting first on the 26 nominees "who came out of committee on a unanimous, bipartisan vote." But nearly all - seven of eight - of the nominees with one or more "no" votes in committee are women, people of color, or both. Fairness and efforts to add diversity to the overwhelmingly white male federal bench argue for Senate lame-duck votes on all nominees."

The Status of Obama’s Judicial Nominations: At a Crawl (Politicizer's Spark blog, 12/15/10)
By Tim Peterson, Editor in Chief

Reform the filibuster (The Hill, 12/15/10)
Markos Moulitsas: "Senate Republicans ...used the filibuster to harass the administration — filibustering administration appointees, even uncontroversial ones. They used the filibuster to ride out the clock on judicial nominees, trying to prevent Democrats from filling as many seats as possible. One judge, Jane Stranch, was filibustered 400 days, only to be approved 71-21. Another, Judge Barbara Milano Keenan, was blocked for months before being approved 99-0. Another, Judge Denny Chin, was confirmed 98-0 after being filibustered for some time."

Why Obama has No Judges (The New Republic, 12/14/10)
Jonathan Chait: "Ryan Grim has some pretty shocking statistics on the GOP's success in blocking President Obama's judicial nominees, along with Obama's complicity in the problem:"

Short Term Thinking (Hullabaloo blog, 12/14/10)
digby: Republicans "placed a huge emphasis on court packing over the years and it's paying off in spades for them now. And evidently, the Democrats are willing to let them continue to do it (or at least fail to challenge it) because well ... I don't know. I realize that the Democrats have been dealing with an obstructionist Senate minority, but with all the "deal making" and "compromise" that everyone's telling us is absolutely necessary, it might have been smart to throw some judicial confirmations into the mix."