Editorials and Opinion
John Cornyn Complains About Judicial Nomination Process He's Blocking (Huffington Post, 05/10/13)
Jennifer Bendery: "Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) ranted Thursday that President Barack Obama hasn't put forward judicial nominees for vacancies in Texas, some open and without a nominee for more than 1,000 days. But he got schooled by his Democratic colleagues, who reminded him he's responsible for recommending nominees to the White House in the first place -- something he hasn't done for years."
VIDEO INTERVIEW: [FEDERAL CIRCUIT] JUDGE PAUL MICHEL ON USPTO AND CONGRESS (Managing Intellectual Property, 04/15/13)
Transcript: "In terms of what could Congress have done more constructively? it could have filled 100 judicial vacancies in the District Court; it could have increased the number of judgeships which the judiciary has been asking for for over 20 years and which Congress has refused to do so the mismatch between the workload of judges and the number of judges is severe and has grown worse over time. Cases, filings go up; complexity goes up. The available resources get further and further out of line - that's what Congress should be concentrating on."
Editorial: Not enough judges, not enough justice (San Francisco Chronicle [CA] , 02/16/13)
"The Republicans, though a minority, have been able to block or slow many of President Obama's nominations. Fortunately, recently enacted filibuster reform has reduced the length of time that delaying tactics can be employed in district court appointments.
Feinstein has reintroduced legislation to add four judgeships in the overworked eastern district courts of California. And the logjam shows signs of breaking up a little - several California nominations have emerged from the Senate Judiciary Committee in recent days. Still, the system is agonizingly slow. ... This shouldn't be a matter of politics. It's a matter of justice."
Why Judicial Vacancies Matter, Part II (Appellate Strategist, 04/30/12)
Kirk Jenkins, Sedgwick LLP: "Congress has failed for a generation to keep up with the fast-growing dockets in the Federal courts. ... Federal judges see the harm done by this crisis firsthand. “I have my own standards,” said Chief District Judge B. Lynn Winmill of the District of Idaho late last year, “but it’s getting very, very hard to meet my standards.... Civil litigation has ground to a halt,” said Chief Judge Michael McCuskey of the Central District of Illinois ... Ultimately, I think people will lose faith in the rule of law,” Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit"
Senators must push for judges (Yuma Sun [AZ] , 04/10/12)
Glenn Sugameli letter: "both vacant Arizona district judgeships and all four empty 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals seats are still among 34 vacancies that the U.S. courts have officially designated as “judicial emergencies.”
A solution depends upon Arizona's Republican U.S. senators, Jon Kyl and John McCain. They are responsible for what the editorial refers to as one of President Obama's nominees who “has been hung up in Congress.”
Sens. Kyl and McCain must help identify a nominee for Arizona's other district vacancy and convince their GOP colleagues to allow floor votes on other nominations. These include Arizona Supreme Court Justice Andrew Hurwitz's 9th Circuit nomination, which they strongly support.
As the editorial states, court officials explain that Arizona “needs far more” than the currently authorized 13 district court judgeships. Arizona's senators could also push the Emergency Judicial Relief Act they sponsored which would create more judgeships in Arizona and other border states."
Editorial: District courts need long-term help with cases (Yuma Sun [AZ] , 04/01/12)
Chief Judge Rosalyn Silver said the district courts here — which had the highest number of felony cases in the nation last year — are still struggling. “We are still in dire circumstances. We are underwater.”
The state is authorized to have 13 district court judgeships, although really it needs far more than that, according to court officials ...
But the court system remains short of even the 13 authorized positions. One judgeship has been hung up in Congress. The U.S. Senate has yet to approve a nomination made by President Obama.
When a court system is as overwhelmed by cases as are the federal district courts in Arizona, it can lead to a lower quality of justice. There is less opportunity for trial preparation, less opportunity for careful judicial consideration and more possibility that justice will not be done as the courts struggle to push cases through the system in a timely manner.
A long-term solution is needed rather than visiting judges and temporary emergency declarations."
Allow floor votes (Amarillo Globe-News [TX], 03/17/12)
Glenn Sugameli Letter: "Texans would benefit if Senate Republicans agreed to allow floor votes on many judicial nominees whom the highly polarized Judiciary Committee approved unanimously back in 2011. Inexplicably delayed district judge nominees include Gregg J. Costa and David C. Guaderrama, who were jointly recommended by U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison, both R-Texas, to fill two of 34 court-declared judicial emergency vacancies.
Texas federal courts are so overwhelmed and backlogged that immediate bipartisan action is needed in two other areas.
First, Cornyn and Hutchison can push for action on their May 2011 bipartisan bill to create new judgeships in Texas and other border states.
Second, they should quickly identify consensus nominees for seven other Texas federal trial and appellate court judgeships, six of which are also designated judicial emergencies."
Judicial gridlock (Houston Chronicle, 12/31/11)
Glenn Sugameli Letter: " there is one major area where the answer to whether Texas has been helped or hurt does not depend on whether you're talking to a Republican or a Democrat.
Everyone should agree that Senate gridlock is harming federal courts nationwide. Justice delayed is justice denied, as obstruction has resulted in unprecedented federal judicial vacancies. Gridlock has also frozen the Texas senators' bipartisan bill to create new federal judgeships in border states.
Unexplained and unjustifiable objections by unnamed Senate Republicans repeatedly have blocked votes on consensus judicial nominees with home-state senator support. Sixteen of these were approved unanimously by the Judiciary Committee, including Gregg Costa and David Guaderrama, who would fill Texas vacancies the U.S. courts have decided are judicial emergencies.
After the Senate left until January, Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee said about his state's nominee: "There is absolutely no reason why we shouldn't have confirmed him before we got out."
Texas Sens. John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison should work with Lee to ensure floor votes for Costa, Guaderrama and other committee-approved judicial nominees."
Midlands Voices: Preserve our independent judiciary (Omaha World-Herald [NE] , 11/02/11)
Michael A. Nelsen: "Federal judges have not had a pay raise in years — and are unlikely to get one anytime soon. It now takes many weeks or months — sometimes years — to get a new judge confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The federal courts are chronically short-handed. There is currently a 10 percent vacancy rate."
OUR VIEWS: Eastern District loses a fine judge (Modesto Bee [CA], 09/04/11)
"At age 70, Wanger is leaving the judiciary Sept. 30 and returning to practice law. The impact of that decision will be felt deeply at a time when the local federal bench doesn't have enough help to process a caseload that is among the highest in the nation. Eastern District trial judges have a workload that is three times greater than federal judges nationwide.... Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, has been pushing to authorize six more judges for the district, but her legislation has gotten caught up in a political battle over judges in the U.S. Senate. That philosophical spat has hurt the cause of justice in the Eastern District."
EDITORIAL: Wanger's retirement will leave a huge hole (Fresno Bee [CA] , 09/01/11)
the local federal bench doesn't have enough help to process a caseload that is among the highest in the nation. Eastern District trial judges have a workload that is three times greater than federal judges nationwide....
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, has been pushing to authorize six more judges for the district, but her legislation has gotten caught up in a political battle over judges in the U.S. Senate. That philosophical spat has hurt the cause of justice in the Eastern District."
Senators McCain And Kyl Are Back To Obstructing Judges In One Of The Most Overloaded Courts In The Country (Think Progress, 08/22/11)
Ian Millhiser: "Few if any courts are more handicapped by the judicial vacancy crisis than the United States District Court for the District of Arizona. After the murder of Chief Judge John Roll in the same mass shooting that targeted Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), there are currently three vacancies on this court. And the Judicial Conference of the United States believes that eight additional judges are required to keep up with the court’s exploding caseload,"
Editorial: Vacancies must be filled quickly (Arizona Republic, 08/07/11)
"We are glad that both Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl spoke up to support U.S. Magistrate Judge Jennifer Guerin Zipps. She was nominated by President Barack Obama to replace U.S. District Judge John Roll, who was killed during the attack on Giffords.
The Senate should follow their lead and quickly confirm Zipps so she can help alleviate a dire shortage of federal judges in our state. McCain and Kyl should also help move the nomination of Rosemary Marquez, who was nominated for another vacancy in Arizona. Obama has not yet offered a nominee for the third judicial vacancy. He should do so quickly.
These are critically important efforts.
When he died, Roll was working to declare a judicial emergency in Arizona. ... Arizona now has three district-court vacancies, and the judicial emergency has been officially declared. ... For years, the Judicial Conference of the United States has recommended increasing the number of federal judges in Arizona. That's something the Senate should address.
In the meantime, unfilled vacancies represent a real strain on the judiciary."
Even If All Judicial Vacancies Were Filled, We’d Still Need More Judges (Think Progress, 08/04/11)
Ian Millhiser: "From the moment President Obama took office, Senate Republicans waged an unprecedented campaign of obstruction against his judicial nominees. ... As a result, judicial confirmations have fallen off a cliff. President Obama’s nominees have been confirmed at only slightly more than half the rate of his two predecessors’ nominees, and Obama is now the only recent president to see the number of judicial vacancies actually go up during his first 30 months in office.
Yet, even if every single judicial vacancy were filled tomorrow, that would only solve part of the problem. As a new report by the Constitutional Accountability Center explains, the number of congressionally authorized federal judgeships has barely changed at all since the first President Bush left the White House, while the federal judiciary’s caseload has skyrocketed:"
Editorial: Obama should act to fill judicial vacancies; Move swiftly on nominations with bipartisan support. (San Antonio Express-News [TX] , 07/27/11)
"Sens. John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison have forwarded the names of two more jurists to the White House for consideration as nominees to fill empty federal judicial benches in Texas. President Barack Obama should accept the recommendations and move swiftly on the nominations. . . . Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, who acts as a spokesman for Texas Democrats on judicial nominations, endorsed the duo. He also called on the White House to act quickly to fill all the judicial vacancies in Texas — six, including one in San Antonio.
More than 30 months into the Obama presidency, there's no reason why so many of these posts lack White House nominees. When nominations have been forthcoming, the Senate has compounded the problem by dragging out the confirmation process.. . . A measure moving through Congress would create three new federal courts in Texas to deal with the mounting number of criminal cases related to border issues, including drug and human trafficking.
Those courts are needed. But the focus now should be on filling existing vacancies. Guaderrama and Costa have bipartisan support. There is no reason to delay their nominations."
Texas crisis complex (San Antonio Express-News [TX] , 07/09/11)
"Texas' two senators do not “have a constitutional right to block presidential nominees in the Senate.”
Ironically, Sen. John Cornyn insisted that the Senate must “provide the up-or-down vote the U.S. Constitution demands” on judicial nominees even though he later voted to filibuster President Obama's appellate and district court nominees.
In context, Martin's description of the “six remaining judicial vacancies” and the accompanying Express-News editorial asking for a swifter move to confirm Obama nominees and fill two seats that lack nominations, were entirely appropriate.
The Texas “justice delayed is justice denied” crisis, however, is broader. As Martin previously reported, Cornyn and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison recently co-sponsored a bill to create more judgeships in the Texas border area." Glenn Sugameli, Letter To the Editor
Editorial: District court expansion bill needs fast OK (Yuma Sun [AZ] , 05/22/11)
"Arizona's two U.S. senators, Jon Kyl and John McCain, have joined a number of others in introducing an emergency judicial relief act in Congress to come to the rescue of U.S. district courts in our state. . . . Even during this time of fiscal restraint, Congress needs to move quickly to provide the new judgeships and then to approve the appointments to fill them once they are authorized."
Judicial vacancies cost too much (St. Louis Post-Dispatch [MO] , 04/30/11)
Ashley L. Belleau,• National president, Federal Bar Association: "our federal court system is bursting at the seams. With 12 percent of judgeships vacant, temporary judgeships expiring, and more courts in emergency mode than ever, there is an unprecedented crisis. Judicial vacancies plainly undermine the capacity of our courts to render justice within a reasonable period of time.... Vacancies and delays add greater costs to already-high litigation expenses. For business clients, these costs get passed on to customers. And when the United States is a party to the case, it means that the public is paying that higher tab."
Out West, Senior Judges More Than Carrying Their Weight (Wall Street Journal, 03/14/11)
WSJ Law Blog by Ashby Jones: "Senior judges in the largest appellate circuit shoulder one-third of the legal load, according to the article.
The reason: due to partisan bickering between Republicans and Democrats in Washington, too many judicial seats stay empty for too long, requiring more work of judges who’ve taken “senior status” — taken on a reduced caseload....A bill repeatedly introduced in Congress since the mid-1990s would expand the judiciary by 63 judges, including five for the 9th Circuit.
But Brookings Institution scholar Russell Wheeler noted that the bill has languished for years while the federal caseload soared with immigration and drug cases.
As a result, “the circuit could not function without those active senior judges,” Arthur Hellman, a University of Pittsburgh law professor, said of the 9th Circuit.
But he warns of the unsustainable status quo of judges working well into their 80s.
“It’s a looming problem that will reach a period, probably fairly soon, where the percentage of help you can get from seniors is substantially reduced,” Hellman said. “Then the court will really be in trouble.”"
Judicial Vacancies—Is There a Crisis? (Federal Lawyer, 01/01/11)
Federal Bar Association President Ashley L. Belleau: "Reducing the number of federal judicial vacancies to a more tolerable level is one of the main action items on the FBA’s 2010-2011 Issues Agenda.
The phrase “Justice delayed is justice denied” describes the situation we are facing in a number of circuits and districts throughout the country. The increasing number of federal judicial vacancies in the
federal court system is straining the capacity of federal courts to administer justice in an adequate and timely manner. ... The case for accelerated action on judicial vacancies
is further highlighted by the need for The Federal Judgeship Act (S. 1653, H.R. 362) supported by the
Judicial Conference and the FBA to add 12 new
circuit judgeships and 51 new district judgeships. ... The large
number of judicial vacancies prevents the prompt and
timely administration of justice in the federal courts,
where our members practice. This is causing unnecessary
hardship and increased costs on individuals and
business with lawsuits pending in the federal courts."
Thanksgiving and the Third Branch (Findlaw, 11/25/09)
Prof. Carl Tobias: " even more jurists might have received confirmation, had some GOP members better cooperated with Democrats. For much of the 111th Congress, Republican Senators have slowed floor debates and votes by placing anonymous holds on nominees.
Democrats and Republicans should work together more closely to approve judges because the current situation – in which the federal courts are operating with more than ten percent of their judgeships vacant -- may prevent the federal judiciary from swiftly, inexpensively, and equitably resolving cases.
The judiciary, in turn, should be grateful that the related idea of comprehensive judgeships legislation, which last passed in 1990, is apparently receiving serious consideration, "
Editorial: Congress and president must get us more judges (Modesto Bee [CA], 11/20/09)
"It appears that Congress has finally recognized the crisis. A bill is pending to create 63 new judgeships across the nation. ... The judicial crisis in the Eastern District is serious. The president and Congress must move expeditiously to give the district the jurists it needs."
Editorial: Judge shortage strains the courts (Sacramento Bee [CA] , 11/13/09)
"The president and Congress must move expeditiously to give the district the jurists it needs, and Republicans should stop playing politics with Chen's nomination."
The Bench in Purgatory: The new Republican obstructionism on Obama's judicial nominees (Slate Magazine, 10/26/09)
Doug Kendall: "It seems clear that Senate Republicans are prepared to take the partisan war over the courts into uncharted territory—delaying up-or-down votes on the Senate floor for even the most qualified and uncontroversial of the president's judicial nominees. If this continues, it will worsen an already serious problem of vacancies on the federal courts. And it will discourage from ever entering the confirmation process precisely the type of nominees both parties should want."
Bipartisan Cooperation Needed to Ensure Access to Justice in the Federal Courts (American Constitution Society Blog, 10/19/09)
Op-Ed By Nan Aron, President, and Jennifer Meinig, Legislative Counsel, Alliance for Justice: "The Federal Judgeship Act of 2009 is long overdue. Senators from both parties should come together to meet the needs of all Americans for access to equal justice under the law. Justice delayed is justice denied."