Judicial Nominations

  • March 18, 2014
    Students from Yale Law School wrote a letter admonishing Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) for voting against the nomination of Debo Adegbile to head the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department. Sen. Coons voted against Adegbile because he oversaw an appeals process for a convicted murderer while at the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. Ryan J. Reilly at The Huffington Post reports on the letter.
    On Monday, Tarek Mehanna’s lawyer asked the Supreme Court to review his client’s seventeen-year imprisonment by a Boston jury for “providing material support to the Al-Qaeda terrorist network.” Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog notes the First Amendment implications of Mehanna’s conviction.
    Anticipation is growing as the Supreme Court prepares to hear oral argument for Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. In an article for Slate, Adam Winkler—Faculty Advisor for the UCLA School of Law ACS Student Chapter—explains why corporations should have the rights of “legal personhood that are essential to their operations” and why “Hobby Lobby should lose.”
    Kirk Siegler at NPR discusses why “California is shaping up to be the next major battleground over the Second Amendment.”
    Celebrating Women’s History Month, Cortelyou Kenney at Womenstake discusses the “gains women have made in terms of their representation on the federal judiciary … under the Obama administration.”
  • March 14, 2014
    On Monday, March 10, the Senate voted in favor of cloture for Carolyn McHugh to the 10th Circuit (Utah) by a vote of 62-34.
    On Tuesday March 11, President Obama nominated Leslie Joyce Abrams to the Middle District of Georgia. Her nomination was welcomed by many, including Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.) and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.). However, criticism of President Obama’s other judicial nominees in Georgia continues.
    Also on Tuesday, the Senate continued with four cloture votes on nominees to the Eastern District of Michigan:
    Matthew Leitman to the E.D. of Michigan, 55-43;
    Judith Ellen Levy to the E.D. of Michigan, 56-42;
    Laurie Michelson to the E.D. of Michigan, 56-43; and
    Linda Parker to the E.D. of Michigan, 56-42.
    With successful cloture votes, the Senate was able to vote on the confirmation of these five nominees on Wednesday. All five were confirmed, four with no opposition.
    Carolyn McHugh to the 10th Circuit (Utah), 98-0;
    Matthew Leitman to the E.D. of Michigan, 98-0;
    Judith Ellen Levy to the E.D. of Michigan, 97-0;
    Laurie Michelson to the E.D. of Michigan, 98-0; and
    Linda Parker to the E.D. of Michigan, 60-37.
    Carolyn McHugh will be the first woman from Utah to sit on the 10th Circuit.
  • March 6, 2014
    The Senate has blocked President Obama’s nomination of Debo Adegbile to be Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division. Adegbile, who was a prominent lawyer for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, has faced criticism for overseeing an appeals process for a convicted murderer while at the LDF. NPR’s Carrie Johnson comments on why the president’s nominee is facing criticism for “one controversial episode in his long career.”
    The D.C. Council passed a bill Tuesday that would decriminalize private possession and smoking of marijuana. As anticipation grows surrounding Mayor Vincent Gray’s signing of the bill, Aaron C. Davis of The Washington Post describes how the law is developing into a civil rights issue.
    New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has cancelled plans for three new charter schools. Al Baker and Javier C. Hernández of The New York Times discuss the mayor’s unyielding support for public education in the face of a growing  “charter school empire.”
    Ryan Goodman at Just Security reports on the Obama administration’s lethal operation against a U.S. citizen in Pakistan for “production and distribution of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).”
    A study conducted by Rachel West and Michael Reich at the Center for American Progress reveals that “a 10 percent increase in the minimum wage [would] reduce SNAP enrollment.”
    At The Root, Jenée Desmond-Harris notes how the 2015 White House budget report highlights civil rights, the reduction of racial disparities and access to higher education. 


  • February 28, 2014
    On Wednesday, February 12 Sen. Reid (D-Nev.) filed cloture on four nominees. When the Senate returned on Monday, February 24, the Senate confirmed the first of these nominees, Jeffrey Alker Meyer to the District of Connecticut by a vote of 91-2. On Tuesday, February 25, the Senate confirmed the remaining three nominees:
    James Maxwel Moody, Jr. to the Eastern District of Arkansas, 95-4,
    James Donato to the Northern District of California, 90-5, and
    Beth Labson Freeman to the Northern District of California, 91-7.
    On Tuesday, February 25, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on four judicial nominees:
    Gregg Jeffrey Costa to the Fifth Circuit,
    Tanya S. Chutkan to the District of Columbia,
    M. Hannah Lauck to the Eastern District of Virginia, and
    Leo T. Sorokin to the District of Massachusetts.
    On Thursday, February 27, the Senate Judiciary Committee held and Executive Business Meeting and reported six nominees to the District of Arizona out of Committee. The Committee held over three other nominees.
    The nominees to the District of Arizona reported out were:
    Steven Paul Logan,
    John Joseph Tuchi,
    Diane J. Humetewa,
    Rosemary Marquez,
    Douglas L. Rayes, and
    James Alan Soto.
    If confirmed, Diane Humetewa would be the first Native American woman to serve on the federal bench. Rosemary Marquez was originally nominated in June of 2011 and is the nominee who has been pending the longest.
  • February 21, 2014
    Guest Post
    by Sara Murphy, 1L Section Representative, ACS Harvard Law School Student Chapter

    On January 31, the Honorable David S. Tatel and the Honorable Brett M. Kavanaugh of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit joined Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow for a discussion about life on the D.C. Circuit. The event, co-sponsored by the ACS Harvard Law School Student Chapter and the school’s chapter of the  Federalist Society, drew a large crowd of both law students and members of the public.
    The D.C. Circuit essentially presides over the federal government; it has jurisdiction over all the federal agencies, and has original jurisdiction in some matters. Judge Tatel remarked that the court excels at issuing objective and non-ideological opinions – or comes as close to it as a court can get. He attributed this, in part, to small size of the court, which allows the judges to get to know each other well. The culture in the D.C. Circuit encourages judges to keep an open mind, and to have respect for each other and for panel decisions. Judge Kavanaugh agreed that the relationship between the judges was collegial, and noted that even when the judges disagree they do so with a tone of respect.
    According to Judge Tatel, the greatest challenge in being a judge is overcoming the immediate instinct judges develop about the case based on who they are and where they came from. How do you move beyond those instincts in trying to resolve the case within a framework of objective legal standards? He noted that the challenge is the greatest when the applicable standards drive the court to a decision that conflicts with the judge’s original instinct. This might end up leading the judge to decide a case that is different than how he might recommend resolving it as a member of Congress. Judge Tatel also commented that these sorts of decisions were the most satisfying.