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Judging the Environment judicial nominations photo

A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Editorials and Opinion


Opinion Type


Column: Trump, GOP take aim at courts (Detroit News [MI], 09/26/17)
Nan Aron: The party-line confirmation of John Bush to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, ... demonstrates that the Republican majority cares little whom they confirm. Bush had written blog posts that routinely demeaned women and LGBTQ people, and recycled racist “birther” theories targeting President Obama. ... In Wisconsin, Trump ignored the state commission that has vetted federal judicial nominees for decades when he nominated an ally of Gov. Scott Walker for the Seventh Circuit. There’s talk of halting the century-old “blue slip” tradition allowing home-state senators to weigh in on nominations .... Larsen isn’t the only nominee with a controversial record: in Indiana, there’s professor Amy Coney Barrett ... Then there’s Damien Schiff, nominated for the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. Schiff attacked the integrity of U.S. Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy, calling him a “judicial prostitute.” The list goes on.

Will Trump’s Enduring Legacy Be a Right-Wing Judiciary? The president is moving at a rapid clip to put ideological allies on the bench. (Moyers & Company, 08/25/17)
Susannah Jacob: Donald Trump chose Michael Brennan to fill an open seat on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. In doing so, he broke with a 38-year-old Wisconsin tradition. For decades, when the 7th Circuit seat meant for a Wisconsin judge opened up, a bipartisan state commission voted on a jointly agreed-upon list of judicial nominees for the president to consider.... Trump went ahead and selected Brennan, a former Milwaukee County judge who is a close ally of Wisconsin’s Republican governor, Scott Walker. In 2011, while serving on a committee to help Walker select state-level judges, Brennan co-authored an op-ed in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel supporting Republican efforts to block Obama’s nominee to the 7th Circuit Court — a nominee who would have sat in the very seat for which Trump has nominated Brennan.... Republican senators support Trump’s nominees, despite spoken hesitation. For instance, during his nomination hearings, Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) found 52-year-old judicial nominee John Bush problematic. “I’ve read your blog. I’m not impressed,” Kennedy told Bush. ... Schiff would oversee environmental and agency lawsuits. In the past, he’s accused the Environmental Protection Agency of treating Americans “as if they were just slaves” and recommended selling Yosemite National Park to the Walt Disney Company because they’d “do a damn better job, I think.” He also moonlights as a blogger. In one post, he called Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy a “judicial prostitute”

OP-ED: Ron Johnson’s Hypocrisy on Federal Judgeship: Violates his pledge and adopts policy he once condemned to get conservative appointed judge. (Urban Milwaukee [WI], 08/22/17)
Margo Kirchner: Let’s call U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson’s approval of attorney Michael Brennan’s nomination to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals what it is: hypocrisy. Action that Johnson two years ago condemned as repugnant to the best interest of the people of Wisconsin he now considers acceptable because it helps his own party. Johnson, using his own words, broke his contract with U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, blew up bipartisanship, and chose his party over us. Together, Johnson, a Republican, and Democratic Baldwin established the Wisconsin Federal Nominating Commission to advise the senators about (among other positions) a judicial appointment for our state’s open seat on the federal appeals court.... In a May 22, 2015 press release still on his website, Johnson said the makeup of the Commission and the five-vote requirement help “ensure that the senators would nominate qualified judges rather than candidates who were on either extreme.... Nevertheless, President Trump, presumably in consultation with Johnson, nominated Brennan for the seat, ignoring the results of the Commission. Brennan received four, not five, votes. Johnson said soon after Brennan’s nomination that the White House “made a great decision”

Trump’s judge picks snub Democrats: Democratic senators accuse the administration of not consulting them on lifetime appointments to the bench (Politico, 08/11/17)
Seung Min Kim: President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees are ignoring key Senate Democrats as they vie for lifetime appointments to the bench, according to documents and senators — a break from longstanding practice that diminishes the minority’s power to provide a check against ideologically extreme judges.... University of Pennsylvania law professor Stephanos Bibas met privately with his state's GOP senator, Pat Toomey, before Trump chose him to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in June — but not with Democratic Sen. Bob Casey, according to a questionnaire submitted by Bibas to the Senate Judiciary Committee about his nomination. Same goes for 7th Circuit nominee Amy Coney Barrett, who interviewed with Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) about the appellate vacancy before she was formally nominated but not fellow Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly, a Democrat, according to her questionnaire. And in Minnesota, 8th Circuit nominee David Stras met personally with two House Republicans who had recommended him to the White House but with neither of the two senators — Democrats Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar — who actually wield influence over whether Stras’ nomination can advance.... appellate picks from the Obama administration — from Pennsylvania to Utah to Georgia — frequently interviewed with their GOP senators well before being formally nominated, documents show.... In Colorado, 10th Circuit nominee Allison Eid spoke with her former law student, Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, about the Denver-based vacancy, but not with fellow Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, according to her nominee questionnaire. The White House informed Bennet that her nomination was coming, but that was the extent of any discussions, according to the Democrat’s office. Larsen, Eid and Stras are particularly notable because all three were on Trump’s short list for Supreme Court nominees during his campaign and would be considered candidates for future vacancies.... One Trump appellate court pick who did reach out to a Democrat was 8th Circuit nominee Ralph Erickson in North Dakota. He spoke with Sen. Heidi Heitkamp’s staff about the vacancy. Heitkamp has returned the blue slip for Erickson ... Brennan didn’t get the requisite support from a state-based nominating commission for judges, Baldwin’s office said.