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Letter: Federal vacancies are concerning (Record [NJ] , 11/29/16)
Ellen Barocas: Beyond the Supreme Court there are currently over 100 federal court vacancies with 59 pending nominees. Thirty-eight of the vacancies represent “judicial emergencies.” NJ alone has three vacancies, with Judge Julien Neals of Bergen County waiting more than 19 months for a hearing following his nomination. These vacancies result in NJ’s federal judges juggling caseloads nearly double what is manageable. Sen. Cory Booker has lamented that “continued judicial vacancies means the American people must wait a year or two or longer to receive justice in a case," while reminding us that justice delayed is justice denied. In September, he called out Sen. Mitch McConnell for attempting to skip over long-standing nominees Julien Neals and Edward Stanton III.

Opinion: Jeff Sessions is a troubling, dangerous pick for attorney general (Fox News Latino, 11/29/16)
Raul A. Reyes: His nomination for a federal judgeship was sunk years ago because of charges of racism. Immigrants and civil rights advocates are rightfully critical of his radical policy positions.

In Sotomayor Hearings, Jeff Sessions Was Fixated on Discrimination Against White People: Sessions' ill-fated 1986 confirmation hearings weren't the only ones centered on questions of race. (Mother Jones, 11/28/16)
Pema Levy: In one notable exchange with a witness, Sessions seemed to question whether Hispanics were overrepresented among judges.

Fact Checker: The facts about the voter fraud case that sank Jeff Sessions’s bid for a judgeship (Washington Post, 11/28/16)
Michelle Ye Hee Lee: In the new round of hearings, Sessions may face some lingering questions: Why did his prosecutors view voter assistance as a form of voter fraud? What would he have done differently had he been more directly involved in the case?

The Judiciary v. Working People: Here’s Why Courts Keep Striking Down Labor Protections (American Constitution Society Blog, 11/28/16)
Adam Shah, Jobs With Justice: There are 52 trial-level judgeships authorized for Texas’s four federal judicial districts. Eleven of those seats — nearly one-quarter — are vacant right now and the Senate is unlikely to fill any more of those vacancies. As a result, President Obama has only been able to appoint 12 judges to federal trial courts in Texas, far fewer than his predecessor, George W. Bush, who appointed 19 judges to those courts and left office with only one vacancy. As a result, the Texas federal courts have been supportive of large corporations’ attempts to strike down protections for working people .... Even when Senate Republicans have allowed President Obama to appoint judges in Texas, they are not often progressive and worker-friendly. The one who struck down the overtime rule, Judge Amos L. Mazzant III, was appointed by President Obama in consultation with Texas’s two Republican senators, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, both of whom needed to approve the nomination, under traditional Senate procedures. It’s not difficult to see why Senators Cornyn and Cruz approved Judge Mazzant’s nomination. Before becoming a federal judge, conservative Texas Governor Rick Perry appointed Judge Mazzant to a Texas state appellate court. Before that, Judge Mazzant ran as a Republican for a judicial seat and also has made political donations exclusively to Republicans. Senate Republicans have effectively stacked judicial nominees so that the appellate courts also are tilted against working people. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which hears appeals from Texas federal trial courts, as well as two other states, currently has 10 Republican appointees and only five Democratic appointees. Two of the seats are vacant, but President Obama has been unable to come to an agreement with Texas’ two Republican Senators on nominees who could fill those seats, and therefore, the appellate court’s lopsided partisan breakdown has remained throughout the entire Obama administration.

Federal courts need help, as Idaho illustrates (Missoulian [MT], 11/28/16)
CARL TOBIAS Tribune News Service: With just a modicum of cooperation, Republican and Democratic senators could restore some of the judicial resources courts desperately need. There are, most notably, 20 well-qualified, mainstream district court nominees whom the Judiciary Committee approved by voice vote without dissent. A majority of them were recommended for the bench by their Republican home-state senators. They should get a final confirmation vote during the lame-duck session that began last week.... A clear example of the difficulties such obstruction creates is the Idaho District Court, where caseloads are now 20 percent higher than the national average. The court has one active judge and an 82-year-old second judge, who assumed senior status in July 2015. The nominee to fill this post has languished 11 months.

Where's the urgency to fill court vacancies? | Letter (Sun Sentinel [FL], 11/27/16)
Carl Tobias: On April 28, 2016, President Barack Obama nominated Patricia Barksdale and William Jung for Middle District of Florida vacancies, and Philip Lammens for a Northern District opening. Each is a highly qualified, mainstream nominee, who has the strong support of Florida Senators Bill Nelson (D) and Marco Rubio (R). Nevertheless, they have languished since April, primarily because GOP leaders did not accord the nominees Judiciary Committee hearings, panel votes or final debates and ballots. Because all three are experienced, consensus nominees and the districts need every vacancy filled, the Senate must expeditiously provide the nominees hearings and committee votes and confirmation debates and ballots.

Federal courts need to be filled now (Rome News-Tribune [GA], 11/27/16)
CARL TOBIAS, GUEST COLUMNIST: With just a modicum of cooperation, Republican and Democratic senators could restore some of the judicial resources courts desperately need. There are, most notably, 20 well-qualified, mainstream district court nominees whom the Judiciary Committee approved by voice vote without dissent. A majority of them were recommended for the bench by their Republican home-state senators. They should get a final confirmation vote during the lame-duck session that began earlier this month.

Carl Tobias: Confirm McElroy as federal judge (Providence Journal [RI] , 11/27/16)
"On Sept. 8, 2015, President Barack Obama nominated Mary McElroy, who has served as the public defender in the Rhode Island Public Defender’s Office since 2012, for a judicial vacancy on the District of Rhode Island. McElroy is a well qualified, mainstream nominee who enjoys the powerful support of Rhode Island Democratic Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved McElroy on Jan. 28 without dissent. However, the nominee has languished on the floor ever since, principally due to GOP leaders’ refusal to allow her confirmation debate and vote. ...senators must conduct McElroy’s debate and vote when they return for the lame duck session Monday."

As attorney general, Sessions will undo rights [Editorial] (San Antonio Express-News [TX] , 11/27/16)
Express-News Editorial Board: In 1986, Sessions, a federal prosecutor at the time, made history. A GOP-controlled Senate rejected him for a federal judgeship because it believed allegations that he was a racist were credible.... the Senate need not approve a nominee with a record of offending cherished American norms of inclusion and tolerance — even if the president doesn’t have a problem with that behavior. ... In 1986, a GOP-controlled Senate properly concluded that it could not take the chance with a federal judgeship for Sessions, a lifetime position with as much power to erode rights as bolster them.... Sen. Sessions has demonstrated a hostility for immigration, the Voting Rights Act and crime reform to unskew systemic harshness for Americans of color. In advice and consent, the president has no right of consent if a nominee is unacceptable. Sessions is. We will be looking for Texas Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz to reject this nomination, as should the entire Senate.

Commentary: Fill federal courts now (Bend Bulletin [OR], 11/27/16)
By Carl Tobias / For the Los Angeles Times: With just a modicum of cooperation, Republican and Democratic senators could restore some of the judicial resources courts desperately need. There are 20 well-qualified, mainstream district court nominees whom the Judiciary Committee approved by voice vote without dissent. A majority of them were recommended for the bench by their Republican home-state senators. They should get a final confirmation vote during the current lame-duck session.

Confirm Walter Counts to federal district court bench (San Antonio Express-News [TX] , 11/27/16)
Carl Tobias: On March 15, President Barack Obama nominated Walter Counts, who has served as a U.S. magistrate judge in the Western District of Texas since 2009, for a vacancy on that district court. Judge Counts is a well-qualified, mainstream nominee, who enjoys the powerful support of Texas Republican Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz. The Senate Judiciary Committee conducted a hearing for Counts on Sept. 7. Nonetheless, he has languished since then, primarily because GOP leaders refused to grant him a panel vote and a final debate and ballot.... Many senators have requested prompt floor votes for 20 district court nominees with panel approval, yet Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not set those ballots.... It is past time for senators to vote on Walter Counts.

The Republican Assault On The Integrity Of The Supreme Court (Huffington Post, 11/27/16)
Prof. Geoffrey R. Stone: By refusing to confirm President Barack Obama’s appointment of Chief Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, Senators Mitch McConnell, Charles Grassley, and their Republican cronies betrayed our constitutional traditions and undermined a central principle of American democracy. Although they maintained that their unconscionable behavior was “justified” by the fact that the vacancy arose during President Obama’s final year in office, this was a blatantly dishonest assertion.... Senate Republicans profoundly abused their power and violated the spirit of our Constitution and of our constitutional traditions for one reason and one reason only – to prevent a duly elected president from appointing to the Supreme Court an eminently qualified and properly confirmable justice in the rank partisan hope that the next president – hopefully a fellow Republican – would then appoint a justice more to their ideological liking.... Their unconscionable behavior will rightly cast severe doubt on the legitimacy of whatever individual President Trump appoints in place of Chief Judge Garland. Every vote that justice casts in the future will be called into question, because that justice will be sitting on the Supreme Court bench because of nothing less than a constitutional coup d’etat. Through no fault of his or her own, that justice will be seen as an interloper who should never have been appointed to the Court.

Carl Tobias: Fill the many federal court vacancies now (Akron Beacon Journal [OH], 11/26/16)
"With just a modicum of cooperation, Republican and Democratic senators could restore some of the judicial resources courts desperately need. There are, most notably, 20 well-qualified, mainstream district court nominees whom the Judiciary Committee approved by voice vote without dissent. A majority of them were recommended for the bench by their Republican home-state senators. They should get a final confirmation vote during the lame-duck session that began last week."

Confirm Coggins as a federal judge (Post and Courier [SC], 11/26/16)
Carl Tobias: On Feb. 25, 2016, President Barack Obama nominated Donald Coggins, a longtime private practitioner in Spartanburg, for a judicial vacancy on the District of South Carolina. Coggins is a well-qualified, mainstream nominee who enjoys the powerful support of South Carolina Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Coggins on July 14 without dissent.... If the GOP follows regular order, Coggins will apparently receive a floor ballot soon.

Immigrants are in a state of panic [Editorial] (Miami Herald, 11/26/16)
MIAMI HERALD EDITORIAL BOARD: It’s telling that Mr. Trump has named Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama to be his attorney general. Sen. Sessions is the leading foe of immigration reform in the U.S. Senate. His nomination to the federal bench years ago, before he was elected to the Senate, was stymied by accusations of racism. There will be time later to examine his credentials for the post of the nation’s top law-enforcement officer. Suffice it to say for now that his nomination offers little reassurance to dampen well-founded fears of what a Trump presidency will bring for immigrant communities and those who cherish civil liberties.

Op-ed: Senate should confirm Russell so Utahns can get justice they deserve (Salt Lake Tribune [UT], 11/26/16)
Chase Thomas: the Supreme Court vacancy is only the tip of the iceberg. Whereas the Supreme Court routinely takes less than 100 cases a year, the vast majority of cases are decided by appellate and district courts....there are 116 current and future judicial vacancies nationwide, 54 of which have pending nominees. One of those nominees is Ronald G. Russell.... Hatch urged his colleagues to approve him "promptly" and the Senate Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to send the nomination to the full Senate for confirmation. ... it is completely unacceptable that senators continue to make it impossible for the third branch of government to adequately function. We need a full bench in Utah ... we must make clear to Sens. Hatch and Mike Lee that we expect a vote during the lame duck session on Ronald Russell.

OTHER VIEWS: Confirm two OK judges now (Stillwater News Press [OK], 11/26/16)
The Oklahoman [Editorial]: Next month, it will have been a year since Suzanne Mitchell and Scott Palk were nominated to fill judgeships on the U.S. District court for the western district of Oklahoma. It's high time these two qualified candidates be placed on the bench. Instead, their nominations are each being held hostage by the games that U.S. senators play in Washington, D.C. Oklahoma's two senators, Jim Inhofe and James Lankford, should declare that enough's enough and press Senate leadership to get Mitchell and Palk approved.

Editorial: Respecting the President (Valley News [NH], 11/26/16)
"There is also a compelling argument that when presidents are performing their constitutional duties or exercising their constitutional prerogatives, those actions have to be regarded as legitimate, even if one disagrees strongly with them. Here are two examples from the Obama years when we think his critics crossed this line. ... The other is more recent yet: the refusal by Republican senators to take up the nomination of Merrick Garland to the United States Supreme Court this year, thereby ignoring their constitutional mandate to advise and consent on nominations to the high court. By our lights, both of these were signs of disrespect not only for President Obama but also for the office itself, and ones that we hope will not be repeated."

Court appointments (Houston Chronicle, 11/26/16)
Carl Tobias; Letter to the Editor: Obama nominated Scott Frost, James Hendrix, and Irma Ramirez for Northern District of Texas openings, Karen Scholer for an Eastern District vacancy and Walter Counts for a Western District opening.... Every opening is a "judicial emergency" ... All five are highly qualified, mainstream nominees with the strong support of Texas Republican Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz. they secured September Judiciary Committee hearings but have languished since then .... they must receive swift committee and floor votes.

CARL TOBIAS: Stop delaying, fill federal courts now (Manistee News Advocate [MI], 11/25/16)
By CARL TOBIAS Guest Columnist: With just a modicum of cooperation, Republican and Democratic senators could restore some of the judicial resources courts desperately need. There are, most notably, 20 well-qualified, mainstream district court nominees whom the Judiciary Committee approved by voice vote without dissent. A majority of them were recommended for the bench by their Republican home-state senators. They should get a final confirmation vote during the lame-duck session that began last week.

WILL PARTIES WORK TOGETHER IN LAME-DUCK SESSION? Column: Federal court cases languish without judges (Free Lance-Star [VA] , 11/25/16)
Carl Tobias: With just a modicum of cooperation, Republican and Democratic senators could restore some of the judicial resources that courts desperately need. There are, most notably, 20 well-qualified, mainstream district court nominees whom the Judiciary Committee approved by voice vote without dissent. A majority of them were recommended for the bench by their Republican home-state senators. They should get a final confirmation vote during the lame-duck session that began last week.

Fill federal court vacancies now (Tennessean, 11/24/16)
By CARL TOBIAS, Los Angeles Times: With just a modicum of cooperation, Republican and Democratic senators could restore some of the judicial resources courts desperately need. There are, most notably, 20 well-qualified, mainstream district court nominees whom the Judiciary Committee approved by voice vote without dissent. A majority of them were recommended for the bench by their Republican home-state senators. They should get a final confirmation vote during the lame-duck session that began last week.

Editorial: Marijuana legalization should be up to the states (San Jose Mercury News [CA], 11/24/16)
By MERCURY NEWS EDITORIAL BOARD: President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions to be U.S. attorney general raises all kinds of fears across America, the main one being his questionable commitment to civil rights, which the Justice Department is supposed to defend. But another area of concern, particularly for California, his is stance on marijuana. Sessions is a hard-line drug warrior at a time when most of the nation is regulate instead of criminalize marijuana use. At an April congressional hearing, Sessions remarked that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.” ... Trump is right on this. The hard-line policy has failed, and allowing states the freedom to experiment with differing approaches to complex problems is often a good idea when voters agree.

PRESIDENT-ELECT TRUMP, THE FEDERAL JUDICIARY, AND THANKSGIVING (Los Angeles Review of Books Blog, 11/24/16)
Carl Tobias: Judge Curiel had been carefully overseeing the litigation when Mr. Trump vociferously criticized the jurist’s preliminary rulings in the lawsuit, described Curiel as a “hater” of Mr. Trump and challenged the judge’s objectivity by asserting “I have a Mexican judge. He should have recused himself.” The next month, Trump continued to lodge similar attacks, .... Judge Curiel ignored Trump’s withering, unjustified attacks and never addressed them publicly, while he dispassionately continued steering the class action toward final resolution. ... On Thanksgiving, the American people and Mr. Trump should be thankful for the many federal judges whose quotidian endeavors protect the rule of law that is the nation’s very foundation. The President-Elect and senators must keep in mind these exemplars when discharging their solemn constitutional duties to propose, and provide advice and consent on, highly qualified, mainstream judicial nominees starting in January.

Federal judge appointment for Stanton still possible (Commercial Appeal [TN] , 11/24/16)
Carl Tobias, Letter to the Editor: “Judicial loss could be city of Memphis’ gain’’ (editorial, Nov. 16) correctly states that “partisan politics likely have blocked Edward Stanton III’s chance to be appointed to a federal judgeship.” The editorial also suggests that the GOP Senate majority will not confirm any judicial nominees “now that Donald Trump will assume the presidency on Jan. 20.” However, the Senate could easily confirm Stanton in 10 minutes during Congress’ lame duck session that resumes next week. Thus the Tennessee senators must prevail on the Republican leader to set Stanton’s vote before the Senate adjourns.

Fill federal court positions now (Daily News [Longview, WA], 11/23/16)
Carl Tobias: With just a modicum of cooperation, Republican and Democratic senators could restore some of the judicial resources courts desperately need. There are, most notably, 20 well-qualified, mainstream district court nominees whom the Judiciary Committee approved by voice vote without dissent. A majority of them were recommended for the bench by their Republican home-state senators. They should get a final confirmation vote during the lame-duck session that began last week.... The courts desperately need these openings filled, and most of the nominees are capable and uncontroversial. ... Both parties should work together in these final weeks of 2016 to cut down this backlog of vacancies for the good of the courts, the Senate and the country.

Editorial: Sessions must adapt to Trump view on marijuana (East Bay Times [CA], 11/23/16)
"President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions to be U.S. attorney general rightly has proponents of marijuana legalization troubled."

Bloomberg Law Brief: Senate Leaves Judges Waiting (Audio) (Bloomberg News, 11/23/16)
Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond, and Charles Gardner Geyh, a professor at Indiana University Maurer School of Law, discuss the ... pending federal judges, waiting to be approved by the senate.