Editorials and Opinion
Toomey and Republicans: Do your job, confirm Restrepo (The Hill, 05/08/15)
Dolores Huerta: "Republicans are refusing to move forward on hearings and confirmation of Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, even though he is supremely qualified to fill this much-needed appointment.
Restrepo is a highly experienced judge whose appointment would be historic for our community.... he would be the first Latino judge from Pennsylvania to serve on the 3rd Circuit Court and only the second Latino judge ever to serve on that court. "
Pennsylvania’s missing judges: Only Texas has more vacancies in its federal judiciary (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette [PA], 05/08/15)
Prof. Carl Tobias: "President Barack Obama nominated Judge Restrepo last November for the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals headquartered in Philadelphia on the strong bipartisan recommendation of Pennsylvania Sens. Bob Casey and Pat Toomey. ...
Moreover, since 2013, four empty Pennsylvania federal trial court seats have lacked nominees: three of 12 Western District active judgeships and one in the Eastern District. Pennsylvania labors under more openings than any state except Texas. ... On April 30, the Judiciary Committee’s ranking Democrat, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, asked Chair Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, to include Judge Restrepo in the Wednesday hearing, but on Tuesday Mr. Grassley suggested that he would set a hearing as soon as Mr. Toomey returns the blue slip.
The judge’s hearing is long overdue, as Mr. Obama first nominated Judge Restrepo six months ago and the vacancy he would fill has been designated a judicial emergency by the federal judiciary. A federal circuit candidate nominated the same day as Judge Restrepo received a March 11 hearing and committee approval six weeks later, while all four nominees in Wednesday’s hearing were tapped the same day as Judge Restrepo or later. Mr. Toomey should return Judge Restrepo’s blue slip without delay and both he and Mr. Casey should quickly recommend superb prospects for each remaining Pennsylvania vacancy."
Breakfast Sausage: 5 stories to read today (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette [PA], 05/07/15)
Mike Pound: "1) Just when we started getting used to the idea that the U.S. Senate actually getting things done once in a while, we came across the story of Judge L. Felipe Restrepo, who is awaiting the Senate's confirmation of his appointment to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. The problem for Judge Restrepo, who currently serves as a judge on the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia? That would be Sen. Pat Toomey; our junior senator swears that he supports the appointment but he has yet to give the go-ahead on the confirmation hearing, and he's not answering questions about the delay."
Benched! A “thorough vetting” or a needless delay? The Third Circuit Court of Appeals needs another judge. (Justice Watch, 05/07/15)
"For the past 675 days, the former seat of Senior Judge Anthony Scirica has sat vacant. The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts named the seat a judicial emergency earlier this year because the circuit cannot properly manage its current caseload without another active judge.
The problem should be easy to solve. On November 12, 2014, with the support of Pennsylvania Senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey, President Obama nominated District Court Judge L. Felipe Restrepo to fill the spot. Yet, 176 days later, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley has not even held a hearing on Judge Restrepo’s nomination.... Judge Restrepo has already waited nearly three times as long for his committee hearing as the average wait for Obama’s other circuit court nominees."
Harry Reid Calls Out Pat Toomey on GOP Blocking of Restrepo (People For blog, 05/06/15)
"Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid condemned Senate Republicans for obstructing Third Circuit nominee L. Felipe Restrepo. Although home state Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania publicly expressed support for him half a year ago when he was first nominated, he has blocked the Judiciary Committee from holding a hearing. Whether he is doing this on his own or at the request of committee chairman Chuck Grassley is a mystery, since Toomey has refused to state why he is blocking a nominee he supports....It isn't like Pennsylvanians haven't asked. In fact, some traveled to Washington earlier this week to visit Casey and Toomey's DC offices personally, but Toomey's office reportedly refused to meet with them."
Long Delayed 3rd Cir Nominee Luis Restrepo to Wait Even Longer (Findlaw, 05/06/15)
U.S. Third Circuit blog By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq.: "Even after six months, the Senate is still stalling on President Obama's nomination of Luis Felipe Restrepo for the Third Circuit.
When Restrepo was nominated last November, he was one of a cohort of seven nominees to federal judgeships. The Senate has held hearings on only two of that group, so far. ... Restrepo is an uncontroversial nominee. Indeed, before being nominated for the Third Circuit vacancy, he had recently been confirmed for a district court position in 2013. ... The delay in hearing Restrepo's nomination is largely the result of Republican opposition to Obama. Stalling judicial appointments has become routine practice over the past years."
Pat Toomey is blocking his own judicial nominee (Daily Kos, 05/06/15)
Joan McCarter: "Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) is ... blocking a federal judge he recommended, ... Toomey still hasn't given his "blue slip" for Restrepo to the Judiciary Committee.... the vacancy Restrepo would fill has become a judicial emergency in the six months that he's been waiting for a committee hearing.... Which in turn means justice is not being delivered in a timely manner."
Sen. Toomey obstructing his own judicial nominee to spite Obama (Daily Kos, 05/06/15)
MichaelMorrillPA: "one area that doesn’t get enough attention is the unprecedented obstruction of President Obama’s cabinet nominees and federal judges.... this crisis affects all citizens because it creates a backlog of cases that undermines our system of justice ... Back in November, Judge Felipe Restrepo was nominated to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals on the bipartisan recommendation of our PA senators.... However, in the six-plus months since his recommendation, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has still not scheduled a hearing for Judge Restrepo. And Senator Toomey could change that, if he were so inclined to push harder to fill the vacancy.
Empty judgeships mean justice delayed is justice denied for people and businesses in Pennsylvania."
Judge vacancies cause significant delays (Des Moines Register [IA], 05/06/15)
Donna Red Wing, Letter to the Editor: "Sen. Chuck Grassley continues to delay federal judicial nominations. Since he became chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the senator has only scheduled three hearings on these vital posts, despite glaring judicial emergencies.... Despite Judge Restrepo’s impressive qualifications, his nomination to the Third Circuit has stalled for more than five months. While Judge Restrepo has waited for Grassley to schedule a hearing, the seat he will fill on the Third Circuit has become a “judicial emergency,” a designation given to courts where a vacancy is causing significant delays.
While Senator Grassley tarries, qualified candidates like Judge Restrepo are left in limbo, and everyday Americans have to wait to get their day in court."
Pat Toomey Is Blocking His Own Judicial Nominee, For Some Reason (Huffington Post, 05/05/15)
Jennifer Bendery: "Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) is preventing one of his own judicial nominees from moving forward, for reasons nobody seems to understand.
Toomey has long supported Luis Restrepo, who President Barack Obama nominated in November to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit. ...But Toomey is now blocking Restrepo's nomination by not submitting his so-called "blue slip" ... Pennsylvania's other senator, Bob Casey (D), turned his in back in November.
When asked Tuesday if he's withholding his blue slip, the Republican senator gave The Huffington Post a confusing answer.
"No, I'm not. Well, let me explain how that works to you. But I've got to run for this lunch," he said, walking away quickly. "But I support his confirmation."
Toomey said he didn't have any new concerns about Restrepo and that he would turn in his blue slip. At some point.
"I will be submitting it at the appropriate time," he said, before disappearing into an elevator.
Aides to Toomey didn't offer much clarity. His spokesman said only that the senator "supports Judge Restrepo" and will "continue working for Judge Restrepo's confirmation and hopes it gets done this year.""
Toomey supports Restrepo’s CA3 nomination. Now he’s blocking it. (CA3blog, 05/05/15)
"US Senator Pat Toomey is blocking a hearing on the Third Circuit nomination of L. Felipe Restrepo ... This is a shocking. In November, Toomey loudly endorsed Restrepo’s nomination ... in a press release ... A follow-up report by Jennifer Bendery ... on Huffington Post added [an] embarrassing exchange ... Mind-boggling."
New Congress, New Round in Senate Fight Over Obama’s Judges (Roll Call, 05/05/15)
David Hawkings column: "The locus of the new fight is L. Felipe Restrepo, chosen by the president six months ago for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. He’s the only person Obama has picked for eight current vacancies on the regional appeals courts. The seat has been open for 18 months, and as a result, the caseload recently became so backlogged that the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts declared a “judicial emergency” for appeals out of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.
But the Senate Judiciary Committee is convening its third hearing of the year Wednesday afternoon to hear from judicial nominees, and Restrepo is not invited. ... The staff for Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley said the Iowa Republican is not embracing this approach. Instead, they say the committee is still reviewing the latest background check — something of a curiosity, given that only two years ago the FBI conducted a thorough review of the 56-year-old Restrepo’s life before he was confirmed (on a voice vote) for his current job as a federal trial court judge in Philadelphia.... Adding to the mystery behind the Restrepo delay is the fact that one of the judge’s most important public supporters, Republican Patrick J. Toomey, has not returned the endorsement form (known as a “blue slip”) the committee requires from each home-state senator before a judicial confirmation process begins. He and Pennsylvania’s other senator, Democrat Bob Casey, jointly recommended Restrepo for the lower court, and last fall Toomey declared “he will also make a superb addition to the Third Circuit.”
Toomey’s office declined to discuss the missing blue slip, but spokeswoman E.R. Anderson said Toomey still supports confirmation “and hopes it gets done this year.” ... Restrepo would be the second Latino ever on the Third Circuit."
Why the holdup on Third Circuit judge nominee? (Philadelphia Daily News [PA], 05/05/15)
Rev. Dr. Robert P. Shine: "Tomorrow, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on pending judicial nominations, the first one in eight weeks. One person the committee should hold a hearing for, but who is not on tomorrow's list, is a nominee for a vacancy on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, based here in Philadelphia - a vacancy that has been designated a judicial emergency.
The nominee for that spot, federal District Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo, was nominated by President Obama back in November. He's exactly the kind of person we want serving on the bench. ... Despite the fact that Restrepo has the support of both of our state's senators and is entirely qualified for the job, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley has refused to hold a hearing for him. Why the needless delay?
Of course, this isn't only about Restrepo specifically. It's about our courts being adequately staffed so that they can do the critical work they are meant to do."
OUTSTANDING WOMEN LAWYERS: Kara Farnandez Stoll (National Law Journal, 05/04/15)
"Patent litigator Kara Farnandez Stoll has represented clients in more than 35 intellectual property cases before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. It's experience that should come in handy, provided she gets the nod from the U.S. Senate for her next position: appellate judge. Stoll was nominated by President Barack Obama in November to serve on the Federal Circuit."
Advise and Consent… (Johnson Post, 05/04/15)
"In 1995, with Democrat Bill Clinton in the White House, Republican Senators Larry Craig and Dirk Kempthorne created a nine-member bipartisan panel made up of five Democrats and four Republicans. The partisan split was in deference to fact that Democrat Clinton would make the appointment. That process ultimately produced three stellar candidates, including current federal District Judge Lynn Winmill, who was nominated and confirmed and continues to serve with great distinction. Crapo and Risch could have adopted a similar approach when respected Judge Edward Lodge announced his decision to move to “senior status” in September of last year. That they did not, and that only in the last few days has there been any news about the judicial position, might indicate that the senators aren’t really much focused on producing a candidate that will be both acceptable to them and to the person who under the Constitution actually makes the appointment, Barack Obama.... This political reality cries out, if indeed Idaho’s senators really want to see a judicial appointment while Barack Obama is still in office, for something like the bipartisan approach Craig and Kempthorne employed twenty years ago. ... Idaho, of course, is unique in that the state has never had a woman federal district judge. ... a vacant federal judgeship that comes around maybe once in a generation really doesn’t belong exclusively to two U.S. senators or even to a president. The important job belongs to Idaho and given the nature of Idaho and national politics shouts out for a high degree of transparency."
Eye on Boise: Bipartisan panel picked Idaho’s last federal district judge (Spokesman-Review [Spokane, WA], 05/03/15)
Betsy Z. Russell column: "“It was the unanimous decision of the commission that Judge B. Lynn Winmill is extremely well qualified for the position,” Craig told the Senate. Winmill’s selection was hailed by all sides, though his background as a Democrat was unquestioned – he was a former county Democratic Party chairman before he became a judge. Craig called him a “long-needed federal judge who is exceptionally well-qualified, honest, hard-working and a community leader,” and told senators, “Although he has an unquestionable Democratic credential, the Republican governor of Idaho also sends his full and unqualified support for this judge.” That was then-Gov. Phil Batt."
Senate must act on judicial vacancies (Herald News [Passaic County, NJ] , 05/03/15)
"Regarding "Lynch confirmed" (Editorials, April 27) and "Vote on AG not required" (Your Views, April 25):
Readers should consider even longer and continuing delays in the U.S. Senate regarding action on nominees.
Two district court judges were first nominated Sept. 18, nearly two months before Loretta Lynch, with strong support from their Texas and Utah Republican senators. ... U.S. District Judge Felipe Restrepo was nominated Nov. 12 on the bipartisan recommendation of his Pennsylvania senators.
New Jersey’s senators need to press to move Restrepo and to fill four District of New Jersey vacancies, two of which have pending nominees.
Empty judgeships mean justice delayed is justice denied for people and businesses." Glenn Sugameli, Letter to the Editor
EDITORIAL: Delays in filling two federal court seats shortchange the legal process in WNY (Buffalo News [NY], 05/03/15)
"Buffalo is now without a single active federal district judge. That will worsen what is already one of the nation’s worst backlogs of civil cases. It is up to the president and Senate to act swiftly to fill the two federal judicial vacancies.... This is not just an inconvenience. Not when it comes to a federal legal system in which it takes, on average, more than five years for civil cases to come to trial in Buffalo. The delays are unconscionable, and more so because the solution is obvious.
One legal observer said this region could use another three district judges, but at the very least the two open seats should be filled.... Both O’Donnell and Vilardo are outstanding candidates and deserving of the positions. They need to win the necessary approvals and take their seats to begin dealing with the overwhelming amount of work waiting for them.
The courts here received more new filings last year than all but nine of the 94 court systems across the country. It’s no wonder that the backlog of civil and criminal cases ranks among the worst in the nation."
Julie DelCour: Here we go again with Senate confirmation delays; Pecked to death by ducks (Tulsa World [OK], 05/03/15)
By JULIE DELCOUR Associate Editor: "For the past 20 years, I’ve periodically lamented the sorry pace of judicial confirmations.... In 2012, Oklahoma’s two senators failed to support a qualified Oklahoma appellate court nominee during a filibuster fight. Sens. Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn later voted to confirm the nominee, U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Bacharach, to the U.S. [Tenth] Circuit Court .... What was so strange about the filibuster delay was that Coburn had waved Bacharach through the Senate Judiciary Committee, and had described him as “the most qualified nominee I’ve seen in my eight years in the Senate.” ... On April 13, four months into a new Congress, the Senate finally held its first vote on a judicial nominee. Alfred Bennett had waited 297 days, and was confirmed 95-0. That Texas judicial seat had been vacant 769 days, creating a judicial emergency. Other U.S. district judges in the district took up the slack by carrying 430 to 600 cases.
Delays in confirmations do create backlogs in courts all over the country, and hinder the timely administration of justice. It’s one thing if the nominees’ qualifications or judicial philosophy is at issue but in nearly every case that has little to do with delays."
Senate must act on judicial vacancies (Record [NJ] , 05/01/15)
Glenn Sugameli, Letter to the Editor: "Two District Court judges were first nominated Sept. 18, nearly two months before Loretta Lynch, with strong support from their Texas and Utah Republican senators. ... Senate GOP leadership keeps them in limbo, even though one would fill a courts-declared judicial emergency. Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has still not held a hearing on a nominee to fill an emergency on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes New Jersey. U.S. District Judge Felipe Restrepo was nominated Nov. 12 on the bipartisan recommendation of his Pennsylvania senators. New Jersey's senators need to press to move Restrepo and to fill four District of New Jersey vacancies, two of which have pending nominees."
EDITORIAL Our View: Women Deserve Interviews for Judge (Times-News [ID] , 05/01/15)
"In this case, where Idaho’s senators are Republican and the president is a Democrat, the senators are likely seeking a judge they believe to be a conservative but centrist enough to squeak past Obama.
Which makes it all the more puzzling the senators haven’t entertained a woman – someone Obama would presumably be more willing to appoint.... Risch and Crapo should have done two things differently: One, interview women. And, perhaps more important, they should have been transparent from the beginning about their interview process and explained to the public their method for choosing a candidate."
Cheers and Jeers (Lewiston Tribune [ID], 05/01/15)
Marty Trillhaase, Opinion Editor: "JEERS ... to U.S. Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, both R-Idaho. Thursday, they sought to tamp
down the Spokesman-Review's Betsy Russell's report that the GOP senators were ignoring female applicants for the U.S. District bench ... where did anyone get such an idea? Could it be that five prominent women - including a sitting judge and two prosecutors - told Russell they applied for the post but were not interviewed? ... Could it be that Risch and Crapo are doing this all behind closed doors? ... Or could it be Idaho's abysmal record of not appointing women to the bench. ... it is the only state in the region served by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to have no woman seated on the U.S. District Court."
Long Past Time to Let 3rd Circuit Nominee Restrepo Have His Hearing (People For blog, 04/30/15)
"Eastern Pennsylvania federal judge L. Felipe Restrepo is among those nominees being obstructed. Confirmed to his current position by the Senate by unanimous voice vote in June of 2013, he earned strong statements of support from home state senators Bob Casey (a Democrat) and Pat Toomey (a Republican) when he was nominated for elevation to the Third Circuit last November.
But since then ... nothing. Chairman Grassley has conspicuously refused to schedule a hearing for him. Although Third Circuit Judge Marjorie Rendell announced in late January that she plans to take senior status this summer, thus opening a second vacancy on the court if Restrepo is not confirmed by then, Grassley did not schedule a hearing. And when the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts formally classified the vacancy Restrepo would fill as a judicial emergency in February, Grassley's response was ... nothing."
Editorial Gov. Brown's tough climate goals: Nation should follow California's lead (Los Angeles Times, 04/30/15)
"The world faces a terrible threat and is already seeing the effects, in more intense droughts and heat waves, diminished crop yields in some areas and floods from rising sea levels. Too few political leaders are willing to confront these realities or pay the price required to reverse or at least minimize them. It's time for other states, the U.S. government and more countries around the world to step up rather than foisting the problem onto the next generation."
EDITORIAL: Preserving Virginia's 'Treasures' (News & Advance [Lynchburg, VA], 04/30/15)
"There’s much to love about the Old Dominion: its history, its heritage, its natural beauty. But with growth and progress, those natural treasures of the commonwealth come under increased pressure from development.
That’s why an initiative Gov. Terry McAuliffe launched last week is so important. “Virginia Treasures” is designed to protect, in perpetuity, ecologically sensitive sites, lands that harbor endangered or threatened species .... The more of these “treasures” we can preserve and protect today, the more of the true Virginia we bequeath future generations."
EDITORIAL: The Pope Joins the Climate Wars (New York Times, 04/29/15)
"As Francis put in a Twitter post this month, “We need to care for the earth so that it may continue, as God willed, to be a source of life for the entire human family.”
The encyclical is plainly aimed at influencing the outcome of December’s summit meeting on climate change in Paris. The pope is right to speak up for our planet, and the greater the impact the better."
Editorial: Protect rhinos and elephants (Bend Bulletin [OR], 04/29/15)
"Legislators in Oregon would like to ban sales of rhino horn and ivory in Oregon — similar to what has been done in New York and New Jersey. ... it could help, and the illegal ivory trade has no place in Oregon. Pass the bill."
Delays on both sides of the aisle (Washington Post, 04/29/15)
Glenn Sugameli, Judging the Environment, Letter to the Editor: "Republican Senate leaders are holding up two federal district court nominees, including one from Texas who was recommended by Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, both Texas Republicans, for a judicial emergency vacancy. They were nominated Sept. 18, nearly two months before Loretta Lynch was nominated to be attorney general, and the Senate Judiciary Committee approved them (and Ms. Lynch) on Feb. 26. There was no disagreement, and both cleared the committee on a unanimous voice vote with support from their home-state Republican senators."