Judicial Nominations

  • May 19, 2014
    Guest Post

    by Mary Smith, enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation, President of the National Native American Bar Association

    On May 14, 2014, history was made with the confirmation of Diane Humetewa (pictured) to be a district court judge in the United States District Court for the District Court of Arizona.  Ms. Humetewa, an enrolled member of the Hopi Tribe, is the first Native American woman in the history of our nation to serve on the federal judiciary, and will be the only American Indian serving as an Article III judge in the federal judiciary. She previously served as the Senate-confirmed U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona, and earlier in her career, she worked as an attorney on the U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee under then Chairman John McCain and as an Appellate Judge on the Hopi Appellate Court. Ms. Humetewa was confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate with a final vote of 96-0. 

    In addition to being the first Native American women, she is only the third American Indian to serve as a federal district court judge with the first two being men from Oklahoma. Judge Frank Howell Seay was appointed by President Carter in 1979. Billy Michael Burrage, the last American Indian appointed to the federal bench, was confirmed during the Clinton administration. Unfortunately, as of May 2014, there are 874 Article III federal judgeships in the United States—nine on the Supreme Court, 179 on the Courts of Appeals, 677 on the District Courts and nine on the Court of International Trade – and now only one of these judgeships is held by an American Indian or Alaska Native. The Honorable Derrick Watson, serving as a district judge in the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii, is Native Hawaiian and was confirmed on April 18, 2013. In addition, out of the population of federal magistrates in this country, only one – the Honorable Leo Brisbois in Minnesota – is Native American.

  • May 16, 2014

    by Rebekah DeHaven

    The Senate began this week’s judicial nominations action on Monday, May 12 with the confirmation of Robin S. Rosenbaum to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit by a vote of 91-0.

    Also on Monday, Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) filed cloture on the following three nominees:

    Steven Paul Logan, U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona;

    John Joseph Tuchi, U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona; and

    Diane J. Humetewa, U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona.

    The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on seven judicial nominees from Georgia the following day.

    Julie E. Carnes, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit;

    Jill A. Pryor, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit;

    Leslie Joyce Abrams, U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia;

    Michael P. Boggs, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia;

    Mark Howard Cohen, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia;

    Leigh Martin May, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia; and

    Eleanor Louise Ross, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

  • May 9, 2014

    by Rebekah DeHaven

    On Monday, May 5, the Senate confirmed Nancy Moritz to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit by a vote of 90-3. Moritz was the 18th woman confirmed to the circuit courts under President Obama, surpassing President Bush’s total of only 17 women confirmed to the circuit courts. The White House created a new infographic to highlight the diversity among President Obama’s judicial nominees.

    On Thursday, May 8, the Senate Judiciary Committee reported out four Florida district court nominees by voice vote. If confirmed, all four would fill judicial emergencies. The nominees were:

    Carlos Eduardo Mendoza, the Middle District of Florida,

    Darrin P. Gayles, Southern District of Florida, 

    Paul G. Byron, Middle District of Florida, and

    Beth Bloom, Southern District of Florida.

    Also on Thursday, the Senate voted to invoke cloture on four nominees: Senate Cloture Votes:

    Indira Talwani, District of Massachusetts, by a vote of 55-41,

    James D. Peterson, Western District of Wisconsin, by a vote of 56-40,

    Nancy J. Rosenstengel, Southern District of Illinois, by a vote of 54-42, and

    Robin S. Rosenbaum, Eleventh Circuit (Georgia), by a vote of 58-36.  

  • May 2, 2014
     
    The Senate returned from recess this week with a flurry of judicial nominations activity. Before leaving for recess, the Senate voted 56-41 in favor of cloture on Michelle Friedland’s nomination to the Ninth Circuit (California). On Monday, the Senate voted to confirm Friedland by a margin of 51-40. In addition to being a former member of the ACS Bay Area Lawyer Chapter Board, she was the 100th woman to be confirmed for a federal judgeship under President Obama. Her confirmation leaves the Ninth Circuit fully staffed for the first time in 22 years.
     
    On Tuesday, the Senate voted to invoke cloture on six district court nominees, and followed up on Wednesday with confirmation votes for all six:
     
    Sheryl H. Lipman, Western District of Tennessee, 58-39 cloture, confirmed 95-0.
    Allen Bastian, Eastern District of Washington, 55-41 cloture, confirmed 95-0.
    Manish S. Shah, Northern District of Illinois, 57-40 cloture, confirmed 95-0.
    Daniel D. Crabtree, District of Kansas, 57-39 cloture, confirmed 94-0.
    Cynthia Ann Bashant, Southern District of California, 56-41 cloture, confirmed 94-0.
    Jon David Levy, District of Maine, 63-44 cloture, confirmed 75-20.
     
    On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee was scheduled to hold votes on four Florida district court nominees, but they were held over at the request of Committee Republicans. Committee Chair Sen. Leahy (D-Vt.) made a point to note that all of the nominees, who would fill judicial emergencies if confirmed, are supported by Florida Senators Nelson (D) and Rubio (R), yet were being held over without reason. The nominees scheduled for a vote and held over were:
     
    Carlos Eduardo Mendoza, Middle District of Florida.
    Darrin P. Gayles, Southern District of Florida.
    Paul G. Byron, Middle District of Florida.
    Beth Bloom, Southern District of Florida.
     
  • April 11, 2014
     
    This was a slow week for judicial nominations. On Tuesday April 8, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) filed cloture on the nomination of Michelle Friedland to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. On Thursday, April 10, the Senate voted 56-41 in favor of cloture on her nomination. Because she is nominated to a circuit court, Senate rules require 30 hours of post-cloture debate before a final confirmation vote, unless there is unanimous consent to yield back that time. As they have done since the November rules change, Senate Republicans refused to yield. Sen. Reid had said that he would keep the Senate in session for an usual Friday afternoon vote but he changed course Thursday evening, announcing that the confirmation vote for Friedland would take place on Monday, April 28, the first day the senators return from a two week recess.
     
    Also this week, there were conflicting reports about President Obama’s progress on filing judicial vacancies. Some argued that he has been as successful as President Bush because of the number of nominees confirmed at this point in their presidencies. Others, however, argued that raw numbers do not offer an accurate comparison because President Obama has seen more vacancies, yet had a lower percentage of his nominees confirmed.
     
    There are now a total of 85 current vacancies and 23 future vacancies (including three vacancies that will become current if a sitting district court judge is elevated to a circuit court). There are 50 pending nominees, two of whom are nominated to future vacancies. There are 36 judicial emergencies. Thirty-one nominees remain pending on the Senate floor.
     
    For more information on judicial nominations, see the latest from “In the News” and “Recommended Readings” on JudicialNominations.org, a project of ACS.