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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

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Presidential Appointments Were Already a Total Nightmare. Now They Just Got Worse; The Supreme Court's ruling in Noel Canning v. National Labor Relations Board hands a victory to government obstructionists. (Mother Jones, 06/26/14)
Patrick Caldwell: the Supreme Court's decision could essentially make it impossible for future presidents to use recess appointments when the minority party controls one section of Congress. While the Senate is technically in charge of appointments, the House still has a say; the Senate can't technically recess unless the House consents. It will always be in the opposition party's interest to prevent the president from filling federal vacancies or putting judges on the bench without their approval. That could spell trouble for President Obama in the final years of his presidency. While he's had an easier time getting his judges and staff confirmed since the Senate went nuclear on the filibuster, Republicans are projected to retake the Senate in the midterm elections. Obama better make sure he gets all of his staff in place before the end of the year if he doesn't want an empty White House as he winds down his final term in office."

EDITORIAL: Clearing the air; Ruling not a slam-dunk for EPA, but holds some promise (Daily Camera [CO] , 06/25/14)
"The Supreme Court this week upheld a critical portion of the Obama administration's attempt to address climate change, even with a do-mostly-nothing Congress. Notably, it was also the third time in the last decade that the Supreme Court has given the Environmental Protection Agency the ability to use the Clean Air Act to help fulfill its mission of protecting the environment."

EDITORIAL: Critics of the EPA need a new strategy, the Supreme Court makes clear (Washington Post, 06/24/14)
"This is the third time in a decade that the court has validated the Environmental Protection Agency’s wide power to restrict greenhouse-gas emissions — power the agency derives not from presidential whim but from the Clean Air Act. ... EPA’s rules are a decent start to addressing climate change, particularly given Congress’s irresponsible abdication. But they are neither efficient enough nor ambitious enough to be the comprehensive national climate policy the country needs. The agency’s rules are as economically rational as the law will allow. But Congress could do much better by legislating a market-based approach to carbon dioxide regulation."

EDITORIAL: On Balance, a Good Ruling on Emissions; The Supreme Court Correctly Affirms the E.P.A.’s Authority (New York Times, 06/24/14)
"Following another suit by a coalition of business interests and states, the court on Monday correctly affirmed the E.P.A.’s power and responsibility to regulate greenhouse gases under the act, even though five justices voted to disallow one of the agency’s regulatory tactics. The case, Utility Air Regulatory Group v. E.P.A., preserves the government’s ability to confront global warming while also demonstrating Congress’s persistent failure to update the law to meet modern needs.... seven justices agreed that the agency could continue to regulate significant greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants that were already being regulated for emitting conventional pollutants — in other words, almost all power plants. The Obama administration has made commendable efforts to fight global warming, most recently by issuing a proposed rule that aims to reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants"

EDITORIAL: EPA loses court battle, wins war on greenhouse gases; Our View: To simplify a complex decision, the U.S. Supreme Court didn't really knock down the EPA.  (Arizona Republic, 06/24/14)
"The result is the EPA will be able to regulate 83 percent of stationary-source greenhouse-gas emissions. If it had won the case, it would have had authority over 86 percent.... Bottom line: Regulation of greenhouse gases is here to stay. A legally sound decision brings the right result."

EDITORIAL: Our View: EPA court ruling is win for public (Charlotte Observer [NC] , 06/24/14)
"The Supreme Court’s decision Monday wisely keeps intact the Environmental Protection Agency’s power to regulate carbon emissions.... That’s not just a win for the EPA. It’s a win for the environment and public health"

EDITORIAL: Our opinion: Guess who is the winner (Brattleboro Reformer [VT] , 06/24/14)
"This was a win for children, the elderly and the environment. After all, they are affected most by air pollution and global climate change....we commend the Supreme Court for this ruling and its recognition that Congress has given the EPA the authority to regulate pollutants that are contributing to the slow destruction of the habitat that supports human life"

The economic climate [Editorial]; Our view: New bipartisan report finds climate change is a major threat to the U.S. economy (Baltimore Sun, 06/24/14)
"Unchecked climate change would be a disaster for the U.S. economy, a point a bipartisan report released Tuesday, "Risky Business: The Economic Risks of Climate Change in the United States," makes clear. ... The science is inescapable — a point reaffirmed by Monday's Supreme Court ruling that upheld the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's right under the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. That the court set limits on that authority — restricting the EPA to major emitters already regulated for at least one other pollutant — is no big win for the business community if it merely reduces the agency's flexibility."

EDITORIAL: OUR VIEW | CARBON RULES; An EPA victory in the climate change battle (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel [WI], 06/24/14)
"Monday's 7-2 Supreme Court ruling allows the EPA to use the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon emissions from sources of greenhouse gases ... there are warning signs ahead for the EPA. But the agency is nevertheless correct to celebrate Monday's ruling; it did get most of what it wanted,"

EDITORIAL: EPA gets crucial clean-air victory (Kansas City Star, 06/24/14)
"The U.S. Supreme Court has given the Environmental Protection Agency — and Americans — a crucial victory when it comes to curtailing dangerous greenhouse gases....Supreme Court decisions will remain critical to protecting America’s air."

Editorial: Court's boost to clean-air effort (Tampa Bay Times [FL], 06/24/14)
"The U.S. Supreme Court correctly affirmed the crackdown on greenhouse gas emissions with this week's ruling that is good for public health, energy policy and the nation's natural resources. The decision further establishes the federal government's authority to address the harmful impacts of climate change with sensible regulations. And it offers another reason why Congress, the states and private industry should get serious about addressing climate change on a national scale."

EDITORIAL: EPA rules; OUR OPINION: Supreme Court reaffirms agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions (Miami Herald, 06/24/14)
"For the third time in seven years, the Supreme Court this week reaffirmed the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases. It’s hard to underestimate the importance of the ruling or the magnitude of the disaster that a denial of authority would represent. The ruling is a victory for everyone who believes in the urgency of taking action in the face of man-made climate change, which is directly related to the emission of pollutants in the air. Unfortunately, because Congress has abdicated its authority to legislate on the topic of climate change, it has been left to EPA to make the rules."

EDITORIAL: A climate change win (San Francisco Chronicle [CA] , 06/23/14)
"With a Republican Congress dug in against climate change remedies, President Obama is using his executive power to fashion a policy. In a divided vote, the U.S. Supreme Court has largely blessed his approach, affording a chance to fend off climate disaster....In legal terms, the rulings built on the strength of a 2007 high court decision that approved federal actions setting stricter tailpipe emissions. That earlier ruling, along with this week's case going after major polluters, has the combined effect of lowering pollution on two major sources of greenhouse gases."

EDITORIAL: Our Voice: Thumbs up to the Senate for confirming Sal Mendoza (Tri-City Herald [WA] , 06/22/14)
"Judicious Senate vote: To U.S. Senate confirmed Sal Mendoza Jr. to become the first Latino federal judge in Eastern Washington. ... The breadth and depth of his judicial experience are good reasons to support Mendoza, but we're just as impressed by his embodiment of the American dream. "(It is) not every day that a man who is the son of migrant farm workers, and himself worked on farms in the Yakima Valley, is called on by the president of the United States to become the very first Latino federal judge in the Eastern District of Washington," said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. Through his work ethic, commitment to his community and his belief in equal opportunity, he has been a leader and role model for families, particularly for young men and women born into poverty and difficult circumstances, Murray said. Mendoza was confirmed with a lopsided vote of 92-4. We're not surprised by the strong show of support."

Editorial: TURKEYS AND TROPHIES: Leeson a solid choice for federal judgeship (Express-Times [PA], 06/21/14)
"TROPHIES: A worthy candidate: Bethlehem attorney Joseph F. "Jay" Lesson Jr. was nominated this week for a federal judgeship by President Obama. Leeson has served in many roles in local government, including Bethlehem city council and city solicitor, and has a wealth of community experience. If confirmed by the Senate, Leeson would fill the vacant U.S. District Court seat in Allentown. Combined with the recent appointment of former Northampton County Judge Edward Smith to a federal court position in Easton, the elevation of Leeson would go a long way in tackling the federal case backlog in the Lehigh Valley."

It’s a wrap: Editorials, June 15-21 (Austin American-Statesman [TX] , 06/21/14)
"Tuesday, June 17: Since late last year, when Democrats exercised some authority over the chamber they control and limited Republicans’ ability to filibuster judicial nominations, the U.S. Senate has confirmed 54 of President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees. This accelerated confirmation pace has reduced the number of vacancies in the federal judiciary to their lowest level in more than five years. The reduction in the number of vacancies on federal courts of appeal and district courts is good news. But there still are too many judicial vacancies and the need to fill them remains urgent. The sense of urgency is especially acute in Texas."

Great Progress in Judicial Nominations (People For blog, 06/19/14)
"With the Senate finally able to do its job, the number of current vacancies has gone down from 92 at the beginning of the year to 60 today....With the Senate finally able to do its job, the number of current vacancies has gone down from 92 at the beginning of the year to 60 today.... Every American has the right to protect their legal rights in a court of law, but judicial vacancies make that harder. Harry Reid, Patrick Leahy, and the Democrats are to be commended for making judicial confirmations such a high priority."

Yes, Polarization Is Asymmetric—and Conservatives Are Worse; Don't be fooled by a new report from the Pew Research Center. Both sides are more politicized these days, but it's not equal. (Atlantic, 06/19/14)
Norm Ornstein: "If bad behavior—using the nation’s full faith and credit as a hostage to political demands, shutting down the government, attempting to undermine policies that have been lawfully enacted, blocking nominees not on the basis of their qualifications but to nullify the policies they would pursue, using filibusters as weapons of mass obstruction—is to be discouraged or abandoned, those who engage in it have to be held accountable. Saying both sides are equally responsible, insisting on equivalence as the mantra of mainstream journalism, leaves the average voter at sea, unable to identify and vote against those perpetrating the problem."

Editorial: Justice denied by partisan gridlock (San Antonio Express-News [TX] , 06/19/14)
"U.S. District Judge Royal Ferguson took senior status on Nov. 30, 2008, vacating his San Antonio-based bench. Today, more than five-and-a-half years later, the bench remains vacant. The situation illustrates the damaging results of partisan gridlock. Work piles up in the Western District of Texas — a hot spot for drug cases and immigration matters — and the open San Antonio bench remains vacant, despite its official status as a judicial emergency. In 2011, Sen. John Cornyn co-sponsored legislation to add three judgeships in Texas. ...Texas still has eight district court vacancies and two 5th Circuit vacancies....Texans should hold their senators accountable for their part in the logjam."

Remarks by the President at a DNC LGBT Gala (The White House, 06/17/14)
"And today, the Senate confirmed two openly gay judges in the same day. Before I took office, only one openly gay judge had been confirmed in history. We have 10 more."

A Historic Day for Our Judiciary (The White House, 06/17/14)
Neil Eggleston, Counsel to the President: "Today’s confirmations also set historic milestones: • For the first time in history, the Senate has confirmed two openly gay judges on the same day. • President Obama has now appointed more female judges than any other President, breaking the record previously set by President Clinton. • President Obama also has now appointed more Hispanic judges than any other President, breaking the record previously held by President George W. Bush. As we’ve said before, these “firsts” — and these milestones — are important, not because these judges will consider cases differently, but because a judiciary that better resembles our nation instills even greater confidence in our justice system, and because these judges will serve as role models for generations of lawyers to come."

White House Infographic: This is the First Time Our Judicial Pool Has Been This Diverse (The White House, 06/17/14)
"The men and women the President has nominated to enforce our laws and deliver justice represent his unprecedented commitment expanding the diversity of our nation's highest courts. That's a big deal"

EDITORIAL: More judges seated, but need still great (Austin American-Statesman [TX] , 06/17/14)
"Judicial vacancies burden a federal court system already dealing with a record caseload, and they delay justice for millions of Americans whose lives and businesses are put on hold when there are not enough judges to decide their cases....But there still are too many judicial vacancies, and the need to fill them remains urgent. The sense of urgency is especially acute in Texas.... We call on both senators to work with the White House on filling judicial vacancies in Texas. Beyond judicial vacancies, there also is a need for more federal judges. ... The Judicial Conference of the United States, chaired by John Roberts, chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, has recommended increasing the number of federal judgeships in Texas by eight new permanent positions. The state's congressional delegation would do Texas well by supporting legislation to enact the conference's recommendations."

Editorial: AG Patrick Morrisey defends pollution (Charleston Gazette [WV] , 06/16/14)
"Apparently, a costly court battle will be waged by West Virginia politicians in an attempt to prevent a power plant cleanup. In effect, they will use taxpayer money to defend pollution from this state’s powerful coal industry. Nitpicking over legal technicalities ignores a much-bigger issue: whether America can regulate “greenhouse gases” that blanket the sky and reflect heat onto the planet’s surface — causing global warming that spawns worse storms, floods, droughts, wildfires and other expensive menaces to humanity. Be prepared for months or years of courtroom struggles to settle this fundamental question. Around the nation, various newspapers applauded the Obama administration for trying to curb coal fumes."

Letter: Vetting judicial candidates (Ames Tribune [IA], 06/14/14)
Erv Klaas: "I wrote to my Iowa senators in support of President Obama’s nomination of Michele Friedman to the Ninth Court of Appeals.... Senator Grassley voted against. In his response to my letter of support, he stated, “Factors I consider important include intellectual ability, respect for the Constitution, fidelity to the law, personal integrity, appropriate judicial temperament, and professional competence.” It seems these factors were not enough for Senator Grassley. He went on to say that he voted against her confirmation because he was “unconvinced that she would be able to set aside her advocacy for liberal causes and transition to the role of impartial jurist.” Would he say the same for a nominee who advocated for conservative causes? It is clear that the only factor that is important to Senator Grassley is whether a nominee is conservative or liberal and that he is unwilling and incapable of being an impartial senator."

Editorial: Sen. Graham won on his record; Rather than run from his record, Lindsey Graham embraced it. He often reminded his fellow Republicans that it’s not enough to be against something. (Greenville [SC] News, 06/14/14)
"On what could have been a lethal issue used by his opponents, Graham didn’t apologize for his support for President Barack Obama’s two Supreme Court nominees. Instead, he explained why Republicans should respect a president’s choice as long as the nominee is competent and not corrupt. And he called for fairness in the confirmation process to protect not just a Democratic president but also a Republican one."

Sentinel Editorial: New EPA rules, city's efforts share same goal (Keene Sentinel [NH], 06/12/14)
"Whatever success the city has with reducing emissions, and whatever success the state may have within the nine-state Northeast Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a good portion of the carbon dioxide, acid and other contaminants in our air are drawn here by the winds from Rust Belt coal-fired industrial plants. The effort to reduce the greenhouse gas output of those plants is a laudable goal in itself....We think the proposed rules strike a fair balance, one that’s achievable and sends a message the country is serious about addressing climate change."

Obama leaves his mark on the federal bench (MSNBC, 06/11/14)
Adam Serwer: "Alliance for Justice, a liberal legal group, released a report Monday ... The blue-slip is not quite as effective as the filibuster, but it has taken its toll. According to the report, “nine out of every 10 judicial vacancies without a nominee are in states with at least one Republican senator—and 55% are in states where both senators are Republicans.”"

EDITORIAL: Our View: GOP: Go to Moscow, Come Back to Reality (Times-News [ID] , 06/11/14)
"Put plainly, the “establishment vs. tea party” spat is destroying Idaho. That’s the problem with a one-party state. If the dominant party goes off the rails, the entire thing falls down. Idaho’s GOP is too busy arguing about the important stuff, like ... spending mountains of cash on a doomed-but-pandering bid to somehow “take back” federal lands that Idaho never actually owned.... And let’s not forget about the wolves. Showing how much they’re hated, we mean really hated, is worth a heap of money, too. The pesky school children can do more with less."... Enough with the absurd initiatives only designed to make “statements.” Enough with the lunacy."

EDITORIAL: Gazette opinion: Energy jobs, health matter in writing emissions rules (Billings Gazette [MT,WY], 06/10/14)
"The new challenge for Montana is to look for opportunities in the nationwide push to reduce carbon emissions. Montana must respond with a plan that recognizes the value of coal and other energy sources. The American Lung Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and various public health groups cheered the news that CO2 emissions will be reduced. The EPA estimated its rule would prevent up to 6,660 premature deaths and 150,000 asthma attacks in children by 2030. ... With good planning and aggressive research and development of more affordable clean energy technologies, we can sustain both better health and a thriving economy."