Editorials and Opinion
Editorial: Burr's obstinance may help Farr but doesn't further justice (Capitol Broadcasting Company [NC], 09/27/17)
"[T]he seat on the Eastern District of North Carolina judicial bench has been vacant for so long (11 years, the longest standing judicial vacancy EVER) .... There were some most able nominees, Jennifer May-Parker and Patricia Timmons-Goodson. But they were NEVER even considered by the U.S. Senate. Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican, refused to submit their names to the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration. Burr refused even though he was among those who’d recommended then-President Barack Obama nominate May-Parker for the post.
Had either May-Parker or Timmons-Goodson been confirmed by the Senate, they’d have been the first African-Americans to sit on the federal bench in the 44-county district were 27 percent of the population is black.
The long vacancy has been a burden for the area. ... During his re-election campaign a year ago, Burr boasted about his obstructionist efforts. “I have the longest judicial vacancy in the history of the United States in the Eastern District of North Carolina,” Burr said, as he pledged to block Supreme Court nominations if Democrat Hillary Clinton were elected.
Well, Clinton lost and Burr’s now proudly promoting President Donald Trump’s recycled nominee for the seat – white Republican Thomas Farr.... Burr blocked two very qualified African-American judicial candidates for years. But when Trump was elected, he heartedly backed a lawyer who has defended the most racially segregated legislative and congressional districts in the nation."
Editorial: Federal court vacancy must be filled promptly (Buffalo News [NY], 09/21/17)
"The atrocious delays in the U.S. District Court in Western New York mean that neither plaintiffs nor defendants are getting the justice they deserve. It is a travesty that requires immediate attention.
Part of that travesty is that there has been a vacancy on the bench for years. The quickest remedy for that would be to confirm Kathleen M. Sweet for the job. Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., put forth her name more than two years ago, and then-President Barack Obama recommended her for Senate confirmation. The Judiciary Committee approved her nomination more than a year ago, but her nomination remains stalled in the Senate. And, with a Republican president in office, there is talk of GOP-friendly nominees in her place. However, Sweet is highly qualified and would bring welcome gender diversity to the bench.... The long-term solution is to add another judge to the allotted four active judgeships in what is the nation’s seventh-busiest district.... There is a vacancy on the bench. It must be filled as soon as possible, then attention must turn to adding another judgeship."
Obama & Trump both like him – SC lawyer Coggins nearing $205,100 federal judge’s job (State [SC] , 09/15/17)
John Monk: Donald Coggins has cleared a major hurdle to be a federal judge in South Carolina and his nomination now awaits a vote by the full U.S. Senate.
“As soon as a vote is scheduled on the Senate floor, he’ll be confirmed,” said Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond School of Law professor who follows federal judicial selection issues.
Coggins, a trial lawyer who is approximately 56, was nominated in 2016 by President Obama and was approved that year by the Senate Judiciary Committee. But that nomination was never voted on because the Senate Republican majority had mounted a broad effort to block Obama’s nominees to the bench, Tobias said. After President Trump nominated Coggins on Aug. 3, Coggins’ nomination was quickly approved this week by the Judiciary Committee. Coggins didn’t need to undergo another hearing because the Judiciary Committee already had held a hearing and approved him during Obama’s presidency.
Filling the Texas Federal Court Vacancies (Texas Law Review, 09/08/17)
Professor Carl Tobias surveys the history of modern appointments complications and the Texas judicial vacancy crisis. Professor Tobias argues that expanding caseloads, increasing appellate and district court judgeships, and rampant partisanship have clearly undermined selection efforts across the country and Texas, which is ground zero for the “confirmation wars.”
Law professor: Judge should be renominated for Western District of Oklahoma (Oklahoman, 08/19/17)
Carl Tobias: In December 2015, President Barack Obama nominated Suzanne Mitchell, who has been a U.S. magistrate judge in the Western District of Oklahoma across four years, to a vacancy on that district court. The seat remains unfilled.
Mitchell is an experienced, moderate nominee, whom Oklahoma Republican Sens. Jim Inhofe and James Lankford powerfully supported. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Mitchell on May 19, 2016, without dissent. However, the jurist languished on the floor until January 2017 mostly because Republicans denied her a final debate and vote. Because Mitchell is a well-qualified, centrist nominee and the district needs all of its openings filled, President Donald Trump should renominate her and the Senate must promptly confirm her.... Inhofe and Lankford should ask President Trump to promptly nominate her again, just as the president recently renominated University of Oklahoma College of Law Dean Scott Palk, another strong, mainstream Obama nominee who had earned committee approval the same day as Mitchell.
My Turn: Carl Tobias: Trump should renominate McElroy (Providence Journal [RI] , 08/08/17)
"In September 2015, President Barack Obama nominated Mary McElroy, who had been the public defender for Rhode Island since 2012, to fill a vacant judgeship in the federal District of Rhode Island. McElroy was an experienced, moderate nominee whom Democratic Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse strongly supported.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved McElroy in January 2016 without dissent. Nevertheless, she languished until her nomination expired .... President Donald Trump should swiftly renominate her, and the Senate rapidly confirm her.
The district currently has one vacancy among three active judgeships.... Reed and Whitehouse have asked Trump to promptly nominate McElroy again, just as he recently renominated three other strong, mainstream Obama nominees who had earned committee approval like McElroy."
Confirm Judge Pan for D.C. District Court (Washington Post, 08/02/17)
Carl Tobias: In April 2016, then-President Obama nominated Florence Pan, who has served as a D.C. Superior Court Judge since 2009, for an opening on the D.C. District Court. Judge Pan is an experienced, moderate nominee who enjoyed the powerful support of Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.). The Judiciary Committee reported Pan in mid-September. However, her nomination languished on the floor until Jan. 3, when the nomination expired because of Republican obstruction in refusing to accord her a confirmation debate and vote. Pan is a highly qualified, mainstream nominee and the D.C. District needs each of its vacancies filled, so President Trump must promptly renominate and the Senate must swiftly approve her.... Norton should urge Trump to promptly nominate Pan, just as he recently renominated Judge David Nye and Dean Scott Palk — well qualified, mainstream Obama nominees who had previously earned committee approval, as did Pan.
Another Voice: Renominate Sweet for federal court (Buffalo News [NY], 07/27/17)
Carl Tobias: On March 15, 2016, President Barack Obama nominated Kathleen Sweet, a longtime Western District of New York legal practitioner to an empty seat on that federal court. She is a very qualified, moderate nominee with the powerful support of New York Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Sweet on a voice vote last September with no dissent.
Nonetheless, her nomination expired Jan. 3 because Republican obstruction denied her nomination debate and a vote. Because Sweet is a highly qualified, mainstream nominee and the Western District of New York requires this vacancy to be filled, President Trump must promptly renominate, and the Senate must swiftly confirm, her.... Sens. Schumer and Gillibrand should urge President Trump to promptly nominate Sweet again, just as he recently renominated Judge David Nye and Dean Scott Palk, well-qualified, mainstream Obama nominees who had previously earned committee approval like Sweet.
Letter to the Editor: Male court sustained (Times-Tribune [PA] , 07/23/17)
Kadida Kenner, Why Courts Matter – PA: Last month, the Trump administration decided to stay the course and nominate another white man for a 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals seat.... Sen. Pat Toomey blocked former President Barack Obama’s nominee to replace Judge Rendell, Rebecca Haywood ... Haywood’s confirmation would have been only the 21st federal court confirmation in the last two years of Obama’s presidency. There were 83 confirmed under President Reagan during the same period of his presidency, 72 under President Bill Clinton and 68 under President George W. Bush.... the 3rd Circuit in Pennsylvania will continue to rank among the worst gender-balanced appeals courts in the nation.
There’s still a second opening on the court — Toomey and Sen. Bob Casey should renominate Haywood.
Renominate Gallagher for the District of Maryland (Washington Post, 07/11/17)
Carl Tobias: In September 2015, then-President Barack Obama nominated Stephanie Gallagher, a magistrate judge in the U.S. District Court of Maryland since 2011, to a vacancy on this court. Gallagher is an exceptionally qualified, moderate nominee whom Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Benjamin L. Cardin, both Democrats, powerfully supported. In May 2016, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved Gallagher without dissent.
Nonetheless, her nomination languished on the floor until Jan. 3 when her nomination expired, a result attributable to GOP obstruction in refusing to grant her a final debate and vote. Because Gallagher is an experienced, mainstream nominee and the District of Maryland requires all of its judges, President Trump must swiftly renominate and the Senate should promptly confirm the jurist.... Cardin and Sen. Chris Van Hollen, who was elected in November after Mikulski’s retirement, should urge Trump to swiftly nominate Gallagher again, just as the chief executive recently renominated Judge David Nye and Dean Scott Palk, well qualified, mainstream Obama nominees who had enjoyed 2016 panel approval similar to Gallagher.
Why Trump should renominate Inga Bernstein for the District of Massachusetts (The Hill, 07/05/17)
Carl Tobias: The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Bernstein on a May 2016 voice vote without dissent. However, she languished on the floor all year until her nomination expired on January 3, primarily because Republicans denied her a confirmation debate and vote. Because Ms. Bernstein is a talented, moderate nominee and the District of Massachusetts requires all of its judges, President Donald Trump should renominate her and the Senate must promptly confirm Bernstein…. Bernstein’s re-nomination and confirmation can be achieved easily. The Massachusetts senators must urge President Donald Trump to promptly nominate Bernstein again, just as he recently renominated Judge David Nye and Dean Scott Palk, well qualified, mainstream Obama nominees, who had earned 2016 committee approval like Bernstein.
Trump Should Act on US Senators Nelson and Rubio's Appeal to Fill FL Federal Judgeships (Columbia County Observer [FL], 06/28/17)
Op-Ed by Linda Geller-Schwartz: These two senators have jointly asked the president to renominate three of President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees to Florida’s federal courts who had been vetted and approved by both Senators, but left waiting for hearings (along with Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland) when their nominations expired in January.
Sens. Nelson and Rubio’s rare show of bipartisanship couldn’t come at a better time for Florida’s federal courts. There are currently seven federal judicial vacancies in Florida and five of them are formally classified as “judicial emergencies,”... Where there are qualified, bipartisan candidates available to be renominated, it makes sense for the president to act quickly.
Linda Geller-Schwartz: Donald Trump should act on Florida’s bipartisan support for judicial nominees (Florida Politics, 06/27/17)
Guest author: Trump has an opportunity to get something meaningful done quickly and in a bipartisan fashion for Floridians. He can act on an appeal from our two Senators, Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio to fill vacant seats in our federal courts.
These two senators have jointly asked the president to renominate three of President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees to Florida’s federal courts who had been vetted and approved by both Senators, but left waiting for hearings (along with Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland) when their nominations expired in January.
Sens. Nelson and Rubio’s rare show of bipartisanship couldn’t come at a better time for Florida’s federal courts. There are currently seven federal judicial vacancies in Florida and five of them are formally classified as “judicial emergencies,”
How Trump is stalling his own nominees: The White House has taken weeks to formally submit nominations to the Senate, even after announcing the picks.The White House has taken weeks to formally submit nominations to the Senate, even after announcing the picks. (Politico, 06/06/17)
"President Donald Trump is lashing out at Democrats for allegedly stalling his appointments and agenda, but it’s his own administration that is frequently sitting on the necessary paperwork for nominees.... Trump rolled out a batch of 10 judicial nominations to much fanfare on May 8, but two of them have yet to arrive on Capitol Hill.
“We wouldn’t nominate people until they were cleared by OGE and maybe they’re not doing that,” said Christopher Kang, who served as deputy counsel in the Obama White House. “I don’t see any strategic reason — or any reason, really — to take this long to send up the official paperwork.”
Despite the lag on some nominations early in Obama’s tenure, Kang said by 2011, paperwork for judicial candidates were usually sent to the Senate on the same day they were formally announced by the White House. Executive branch nominations — who require OGE signoff, while judicial nominees do not — sometimes faced short delays, but rarely as long as a month."
NOMINATING JUDGE HUMETEWA TO THE NINTH CIRCUIT (Los Angeles Review of Books Blog, 06/02/17)
Carl Tobias: The jurist’s decision to become a senior judge furnished President Donald Trump a valuable opportunity to appoint U.S. District Judge Diane Humetewa of Arizona as the first Native American federal appellate jurist. Because she is a highly qualified, mainstream judge and the court — which had four vacancies on January 1, 2017 — needs all of its jurists, the President should promptly nominate Judge Humetewa. In September 2013, President Barack Obama named Humetewa to the District of Arizona.... Between 1993 and 1996, Humetewa served as Deputy Counsel for the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, a position with longtime Arizona Republican Senator John McCain.
Across Humetewa’s exemplary career, she participated in the federal justice system and emphasized legal issues central to Native Americans, areas which have crucial relevance for Ninth Circuit courts....In Humetewa’s January 2014 hearing, McCain lauded her extensive public sector activity while pressing for “swift confirmation.” McCain pointedly declared that Humetewa’s approval would be historic, ... On May 14, the Senate confirmed her 96-0 following brief debate.... The White House must assiduously consult McCain and Flake, who should be very supportive,
Recalibrating Judicial Renominations in the Trump Administration (Washington and Lee Law Review, 05/30/17)
Prof. Carl Tobias: Republican obstruction meant that the upper chamber approved only twenty jurists during the whole 114th Congress, leaving 105 unfilled positions and fifty-one expired nominations upon its end. ... Several persuasive reasons can support renominating many of the accomplished, mainstream candidates whose nominations did expire in early January. First, renomination would preserve scarce time, money, and energy, which must be devoted to restarting the nomination process. For instance, the
twenty district court candidates already have American Bar Association (ABA) evaluations with ratings, Federal Bureau of
Investigation (FBI) background checks and committee investigations, hearings, and voice vote approvals without dissents, so that nearly all of the picks will only require chamber debates, when merited, and floor ballots.... President Obama correspondingly selected the twenty fine, mainstream trial level nominees principally for their intelligence, diligence, ethics, independence, and balanced judicial
temperament, especially their capability to manage and resolve substantial caseloads, rather than ideology.33 GOP lawmakers
concomitantly suggested and powerfully supported a majority of the nominees. Even the three very competent, moderate
appellate designees were nominated mainly for reasons divorced from ideology, phenomena witnessed in bipartisan support for their committee approval. Renomination would correspondingly diversify the federal
judiciary, because five of the twenty renominees will bring ethnic diversity while ten comprise women and two in three circuit
renominees would provide ethnic or gender diversity.... [President Trump] can seat many jurists by renominating numerous impressive, mainstream Obama nominees, whose efficient appointments will permit the courts to better deliver justice.
POINT OF VIEW: Florida shows bipartisan support for judicial nominees (Palm Beach Post [FL], 05/17/17)
Linda Geller-Schwartz, National Council of Jewish Women: President Donald J. Trump ... can act on an appeal from our two U.S. senators, Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, to fill vacant seats in our federal courts.
These two senators have jointly asked the president to re-nominate three of President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees to Florida’s federal courts who had been vetted and approved by both senators, but left waiting for hearings .... Nelson’s and Rubio’s rare show of bipartisanship couldn’t come at a better time for Florida’s federal courts. There are currently seven federal judicial vacancies in Florida and five of them are formally classified as “judicial emergencies” ... With our courts already stretched razor thin, it only makes sense to move these qualified bipartisan nominees through the process rather than starting over from scratch. To underscore this point, Nelson and Rubio made clear in their letter that “timely action is needed as the two vacancies in the Middle District are considered judicial emergencies.”
The letter also refers to the failure of Senate leaders to take “timely action in the last Congress.”
Trump has pivotal job ahead in selecting Keeley's replacement (Exponent Telegram [WV], 05/15/17)
Managing Editor Matt Harvey column: Trump’s replacement for U.S. District Judge Irene M. Keeley — who takes senior status Aug. 12, opening up her seat — could be pivotal to the future of North Central West Virginia. ... The president would do well to listen closely to recommendations from U.S. senators Shelley Moore Capitol, R-W.Va., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va, because judicial appointments must be confirmed by the Senate, which already is fractured on many issues along party lines.
Keen observers of the court have pointed out some of the best qualities about Keeley.
Though she’s a Republican, she doesn’t let her party affiliation cloud her judgment when it comes to the law.
Keeley also has done a fine job of balancing compassion with protecting the public and sending policy messages through sentencing.
This is not the place for a purely political appointment.
While that could also be said about appointments for U.S. marshals and U.S. attorneys, it’s even more pivotal for a federal judge, who handles civil and criminal cases of the gravest importance.... Those who have practiced routinely and admirably in federal court on either side of the aisle also should receive ample consideration
Trump has just begun massively reshaping American appeals courts (Vox, 05/08/17)
Dylan Matthews: By putting Larsen (who’s only 48), Stras (42), and Thapar (48) on appeals courts, Trump is further burnishing their credentials for future Supreme Court vacancies. ... Make no mistake: Larsen, Stras, and Thapar are all reliable conservatives. Larsen served in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel in 2002-’03, when Jay Bybee and his deputy John Yoo were laying the groundwork for the Bush administration's torture regime. She also clerked for Antonin Scalia, and praised him in a eulogy for his conservative, textualist insistence that “statutes, cases and the Constitution were to be read for what they said, not for what the judges wished they would say.”
Stras's campaign site for reelection to the Minnesota Supreme Court stressed that he thought judges should "faithfully interpret and apply the Constitution and laws passed under the political process, not follow their own political leanings or personal preferences." Brian Fitzpatrick of Vanderbilt Law, who researches federal courts, told Bloomberg BNA that Thapar was "very Scalia-like and Thomas-like" in his jurisprudence.
And all three, tellingly, were included on Trump’s Supreme Court shortlist, which was compiled by the conservative Federalist Society’s Leonard Leo....There are now more than twice as many district and appeals court vacancies as when President Obama took office
Fill judicial vacancies [Letter to the Editor] (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review [PA] , 05/03/17)
Kadida Kenner, Why Courts Matter-Pennsylvania: vacancies on our federal courts leads to large caseloads for sitting judges, which impedes the judicial process, and denies Pennsylvanians access to justice.
A district court seat in Erie has been vacant for nearly four years, although the Senate Judiciary Committee had unanimously approved nominee Susan Baxter to advance to a full Senate vote in 2015. Baxter's nomination languished for nearly a year on the Senate floor, and eventually expired.
Now is the time for Sens. Bob Casey and Pat Toomey to continue their highly touted bipartisan relationship as it relates to filling Pennsylvania's federal court seats.
Both senators must ensure the Trump administration renominates their agreed-upon nominees, including Pennsylvania Judges Susan Baxter, Robert Colville, Marilyn Horan and John M. Younge.
If Toomey and Casey want to work effectively on behalf of their constituents, they'll ensure the Trump administration moves quickly to fill these seats with the consensus nominees.
Federal court seats remain open (Bucks County Courier Times [PA], 05/02/17)
Letter to the Editor by Kadida Kenner, Why Courts Matter-PA: Having vacancies on our federal courts leads to large caseloads for sitting judges, which impedes the judicial process and denies Pennsylvanians access to justice. A district court seat in Erie has been vacant for nearly four years, although the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved nominee Susan Baxter, a United States magistrate judge from the Western District of Pennsylvania, to advance to a full Senate vote in 2015. ... Now is the time for our home state senators, Bob Casey and Pat Toomey, to continue their highly touted bipartisan relationship as it relates to filling Pennsylvania's federal court seats. Both senators must ensure the Trump administration renominates their agreed-upon nominees, including Pennsylvania Judges Susan Baxter, Robert Colville, Marilyn Horan and John M. Younge. If Sens. Toomey and Casey want to work effectively on behalf of their constituents, they'll ensure the Trump administration moves quickly to fill Pennsylvania's vacant federal judgeships with the consensus nominees, which they've already agreed on.
Casey, Toomey should push to renominate judges (Erie Times-News [PA], 05/02/17)
Kadida Kenner, Why Courts Matter, Letter to the Editor: In Pennsylvania, there are nine open federal courts seats, two of which are on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.
Having vacancies on our federal courts leads to large caseloads for sitting judges, which impedes the judicial process and denies Pennsylvanians access to justice. A district court seat in Erie has been vacant for nearly four years although the Senate Judiciary Committee had unanimously approved nominee Susan Paradise Baxter, a United States magistrate judge from the Western District of Pennsylvania to advance to a full Senate vote in 2015. Baxter’s nomination languished for nearly a year on the Senate floor, and eventually expired.
Now is the time for our home-state senators, Bob Casey and Pat Toomey, to continue their highly touted bipartisan relationship as it relates to filling Pennsylvania’s federal court seats. Both senators must ensure the Trump administration renominates their agreed-upon nominees, Pennsylvania Judges Baxter, Robert Colville, Marilyn Horan and John M. Younge.
Why Trump should fill all of Texas' judicial vacancies with women (Dallas Morning News, 05/01/17)
Commentary by Amanda Sharp Hinson, former aide to Sen. Cornyn: Trump will rely on Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, in consultation with the state's bipartisan Federal Judicial Evaluation Committee, to recruit, vet and propose Texans suitable for lifetime appointment to the federal courts.
They should choose women, so that justice is dispensed from a bench that looks more like the population of lawyers and litigants it serves. ... in Texas today, women hold only 23 percent of federal district court seats. Even if Trump filled every single vacancy in Texas district courts with a woman, women would still make up only 44 percent of active Texas federal judges.
Choose women to demonstrate that the legal profession is not an ossified "old boys" club .... There is no better way to fuel the opposition's fire than to insult half of the population — and half of the party — by not proactively correcting the gender imbalance in the courts.
Toomey, Casey must work to fill vacant judgeships | Letter (Express-Times [PA], 04/28/17)
Kadida Kenner, Why Courts Matter/PA: In Pennsylvania, there are nine open federal courts seats, two on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.
Vacancies on our federal courts leads to large caseloads for sitting judges, which impedes the judicial process and denies Pennsylvanians access to justice. A district court seat in Erie has been vacant for nearly four years although the Senate Judiciary Committee had unanimously approved nominee Susan Baxter, a federal magistrate judge from the Western District of Pennsylvania .... Now is the time for Sens. Bob Casey and Pat Toomey to continue their highly touted bipartisan relationship as it relates to filling Pennsylvania's federal court seats. They must ensure the Trump administration renominates their agreed-upon nominees including Pennsylvania judges, Baxter, Robert Colville, Marilyn Horan and John M. Younge.
If Toomey and Casey want to work effectively on behalf of their constituents, they'll ensure the Trump administration moves quickly to fill Pennsylvania's vacant federal judgeships with the consensus nominees, of which they already agreed upon.
My Trump agenda for Day 101: ... federal judge vacancies (Idaho Statesman, 04/28/17)
Robert Ehlert, Idaho Statesman's editorial page editor, column: Idaho federal judge ‘emergency’ On April 5, 2016, President Barack Obama nominated 6th District Judge David Nye to serve on the federal court in Idaho. That was over a year ago .... Under the supportive sponsorship of Crapo and Risch, Nye was later approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, on which Crapo serves. But neither Nye nor any of the other 127 federal vacancies got filled by the end of Obama’s term due to partisan squabbling that included Republicans’ refusal to even consider Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court. ...Crapo and Risch said Thursday that they had received assurance that Nye would be among the first judges nominated by Trump. ... We still need to see the official nomination, and then see Nye navigate the process to confirmation. Until then, any idea of prompt federal justice in Idaho suffers because Judge B. Lynn Winmill can handle only so many cases.
Many believe Idaho is deserving of a third federal judge position, but that expansion would have to be approved by Congress. Given how long it has taken so far to replace just one judge, I’ll settle for putting Nye to work for now.
If Florida can do it, why not Colorado? (Huffington Post, 04/27/17)
Peg Perl, Colorado Ethics Watch: Florida U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R) & Bill Nelson (D) came together and made a bipartisan appeal to the White House as it embarks on filling over 120 judicial vacancies on the lower federal courts. Dozens of President Obama’s nominations for these lower courts expired when the new Congress started this January, but many of them were the result of bipartisan selection committee processes and joint recommendation lists from home state Senators to the White House.... Senators Rubio and Nelson have asked the White House not to reinvent the wheel and start over, but to just re-nominate these qualified bipartisan nominees for Senate confirmation in the new Congress.... In 2016, Regina Rodriguez was nominated by the White House after both Senators recommended her from parallel bipartisan selection committee processes. Both Senators Bennet and Gardner enthusiastically supported her nomination and committed to working to push for a speedy confirmation given the backlog of cases in Colorado’s federal court. ...Colorado would be right to look to Florida’s bipartisan delegation as a model for handling this process and together urge the White House to re-nominate Ms. Rodriguez
Trump Vetting Extremist Judges to Fill Record Number of Empty Seats (Center for American Progress, 04/27/17)
Billy Corriher: President Donald Trump has a chance to nominate 127 federal judges to seats that are now empty. This is an astounding number of vacancies—amounting to one-seventh of the total federal judiciary and more than twice the number of vacancies that President Barack Obama inherited. The White House is vetting nominees for courts around the country, including extremist nominees from Texas for the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has four vacant seats.... The administration’s current crop of nominees suggests that Trump will nominate pro-corporate judges who will consistently rule against American workers and the environment.
After years of obstructing judges, Republicans anxious to pack the courts with extremists (Daily Kos, 04/24/17)
Joan McCarter: Senate Republicans used every trick in the parliamentary playbook—and invented a few new ones—to keep President Barack Obama from appointing federal judges. ... the lion's share of the blame for the judicial crisis across the country rests on Mitch McConnell and crew. That's all changed, though, with popular vote loser Donald Trump in office. Here's their chance to pack the courts with ideologues, in the mold of new Supreme Court associate justice Neil Gorsuch.
Editorial: Expect new fear mongering as gun lobby works to prop up sales (St. Louis Post-Dispatch [MO], 04/23/17)
"Get ready for a new onslaught as the gun industry zeroes in on its next whipping boy: the federal courts system. During the Obama administration, Senate Republicans moved at a deliberate snail’s pace to fill the growing list of federal court vacancies. Obama inherited 54 vacancies when he assumed office in 2009. Today, more than 100 vacancies exist, lending Trump enormous potential power to reshape the federal bench.... The Second Amendment Foundation recently launched a “Black Robes Matter” campaign to alert members about the high stakes in Trump’s court appointments.
“It is estimated that President Trump will appoint 38 percent of all judges on the federal bench. … We must make sure that he nominates only people that will respect, preserve and expand our Second Amendment rights,” foundation founder Alan M. Gottlieb wrote to members this month.
Speaking after Trump’s election, NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre warned, “More than 300 Obama-appointed anti-gun judges present an infection for which there is no cure, other than time and vigilance.”... Lobbyists’ thinly veiled attempt to stoke public fear is little more than a cynical marketing ploy to boost sagging sales by creating controversy where none exists."
Senators Want President Trump to Re-Nominate their Judicial Nominees: Both Democrats and Republicans think the president should select nominees who never got a vote in the last session of Congress. (Medium, 04/21/17)
"These judicial nominees were all unanimously approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, but none received a vote on the Senate floor before their nominations expired. Now, their home-state senators want Trump to re-nominate them.
“Sen. Toomey believes it is crucial to place a sitting judge at the federal courthouse in Erie, which has remained vacant for years,” his spokesman said in February. “He believes that Judge Baxter has the intellect, experience and integrity to serve as a federal judge.” A spokesman for Minority Leader Schumer said of Sweet that “Sen. Schumer continues to support her candidacy.” And a spokesman for Sen. Mike Crapo, who now sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said earlier this year that “We’re really going to work hard on Nye.”... Senators who had nominees pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee would also like to see their nominees re-nominated. In Florida, Sens. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, and Marco Rubio, a Republican, want their three nominees to the Northern and Middle Districts re-nominated by Trump. In Washington, Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell want the president to choose from nominees put forward last April by a bipartisan judicial selection committee comprised of three Democrats and three Republicans. Obama nominated three of the committee’s five picks to the Western District of Washington, and Murray and Cantwell, both Democrats, want the same list used this time around.... And there’s certainly precedent for re-nominating.
In March 2009, all 41 Senate Republicans wrote a letter to President Obama about the judicial nominations process. “First, in the beginning of his Administration, your predecessor demonstrated his desire to improve the judicial confirmation process by nominating to the circuit courts two of President Clinton’s previous judicial nominees, Judge Barrington Parker to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, and Judge Roger Gregory to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals,” the Senate Republicans noted to Obama. “It would help change the tone in Washington if your Administration would take the same bipartisan step.” ... Obama did work closely with Republican senators to fill judicial vacancies, and Chairman Leahy, without exception, required that both home-state senators return their blue slips before moving forward on any lower court nominee. He even did this against the wishes of then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D. Nev., when Sen. Dean Heller, R. Nev., refused to return his blue slip for a district court nominee named Elissa Cadish.
“Despite press reports that the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee now may be considering changing the Committee’s practice of observing senatorial courtesy, we, as a Conference, expect it to be observed, even-handedly and regardless of party affiliation,” the Republicans wrote in 2009."