At The Atlantic, Andrew Cohen discusses “secession by attrition” in which a collection of senators are “starving the federal courts of the trial judges they need to serve the basic legal needs of the litigants who come to court each year seeking redress of their grievances.”
Writing for Daily Kos, Jon Perr criticizes Politico’s recent piece “Obama now outpaces George W. Bush on judges,” for its misleading message. While the Obama administration has made some “headway” against Senate Republicans’ egregious obstruction of the president’s judicial nominations, Perr reveals how Politico’s data shows that President Obama’s nominations have been “confirmed at a lower rate than President Bush’s.”
Yesterday, President Obama signed two executive orders that “will prevent retaliation against employees who disclose compensation information and will require businesses to include race and gender information when reporting compensation data.” Keli Goff at The Root comments on this critical step towards ensuring workplace equality.
At the Daily Journal, Richard L. Hasen discusses Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurring opinion in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission and the "faux judicial restraint" of the chief justice’s “gradualism.”
Michelle Olsen at Appellate Daily notes a recent petition to the high court requesting oral argument in a case involving threats made on Facebook.
On Monday, the Senate voted to confirm John B. Owens to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, filling the longest-running vacancy in the country. The seat that Owens filled was a judicial emergency and had been vacant since December of 2004 when Judge Trott took senior status.
On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing for four nominees to Florida district courts, all of whom would fill judicial emergencies if confirmed:
Beth Bloom to the S.D. of Florida;
Paul G. Byron to the M.D. of Florida;
Darrin P. Gayles to the S.D. of Florida; and
Carlos Eduardo Mendoza to the M.D. of Florida.
On Wednesday, the Center for American Progress released a report entitled “Texas, Where Are the Judges?” The report discusses the vacancy crisis throughout Texas and found that “19 years’ worth of cases could have been decided by the Texas district and circuit courts had judges been appointed on schedule.”
On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to report four nominees to the full Senate for consideration:
Cheryl Ann Krause to the 3rd Cir. (Penn.) by voice vote;
Richard Franklin Boulware II to the D. of Nevada, 11-7;
Salvador Mendoza, Jr. to the E.D. of Washington, 17-1; and
Staci Michelle Yandle to the S.D. of Illinois, 17-1.
Also on Thursday, President Obama announced two district court nominations: André Birotte, Jr. to the C.D. of California and Randolph D. Moss to the D. of the District of Columbia.
A recent American Constitution Society symposium explored the vitally important topic of state court judicial selection. Entitled (“Justice at Risk: Research Opportunities and Policy Alternatives Regarding State Judicial Selection” the event empirical evidence showing that how a state selects its judges can impact judicial decision making. The symposium (which was co-sponsored by the American Judicature Society and Vanderbilt Law School) built upon the foundation set by Justice at Risk, a study commissioned by ACS that sounded the alarm over the big money takeover of state courts across the nation. Written by Professor Joanna Shepherd-Bailey of Emory University, who examined thousands state court cases and over 175,000 judicial campaign contributions, Justice at Risk shows that consciously or unconsciously, judges tend to rule in favor of their contributors. For example, a judge who receives half of his or her contributions from business groups would be expected to vote in favor of business interests almost two-thirds of the time.
On Wednesday, the Senate held cloture votes on four nominees, quickly followed by successful confirmation votes for all four:
Christopher Cooper to the District of D.C., cloture 56-43, confirmed 100-0;
Douglas Harpool to the W.D. of Missouri, cloture 56-43, confirmed 93-5;
Gerald McHugh to the E.D. of Pennsylvania, cloture 56-43, confirmed 59-41;
Edward Smith to the E.D. of Pennsylvania, cloture 75-23, confirmed 69-31.
Christopher Cooper has been a long-time member of ACS. Gerald McHugh and Edward Smith are welcome additions to the Pennsylvania bench, which is overwhelmed with vacancies. Even with these confirmations, there remain five vacancies in the Eastern District (no nominees), three vacancies in the Western District (no nominees), and two 3rd Circuit Pennsylvania vacancies (1 nominee). There has been serious disagreement and concern over David Porter, thought to be under consideration for one of the Western District vacancies.
Florida courts came one step closer to adding Darrin Gayles to the bench this week when Sen. Rubio (R-Fla.) returned his blue slip, allowing Gayles to have a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee. If confirmed, Gayles would be the first openly gay African-American man to be a federal judge. He was nominated by President Obama after Sen. Rubio blocked William Thomas’s nomination, despite Rubio’s early support.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been a passionate advocate for progressive ideals during her long tenure on the Supreme Court. However, many on the left are urging Justice Ginsburg to retire at the end of the Court’s current term, in order to avoid risking “a Republican president filling her seat.” Garrett Epps at The Atlanticexplains why “this Supreme Court justice will leave the bench when she's ready, regardless of what others think.”
Writing for NYRblog, David Cole—Co-Faculty Advisor for the Georgetown University Law Center ACS Student Chapter—comments on the growing controversy regarding the Central Intelligence Agency’s alleged tampering with a Senate torture investigation. Cole argues that the CIA’s “desperate efforts to hide the details … are only the latest evidence of the poisonous consequences of a program euphemistically called ‘enhanced interrogation.’”
The Cleveland-Marshall College of Law has announced a plan to allow its students the opportunity to end law school early while earning a Master of Legal Studies degree. Karen Sloan at The National Law Journal breaks down the first “risk-free Juris doctor program.”
Ronald K. L. Collins at Concurring Opinions examines how Justice Antonin Scalia’s “view of textualism and originalism … plays out in the First Amendment context.”
At Balkinization, Marty Lederman provides readers with a collection of his commentary on Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. A list of ACS resources on Hobby Lobby and other challenges to the Affordable Care Act can be found here.
Peter Hardin at GavelGrab discusses the Tennessee Supreme Court’s decision to uphold retention elections.