This Week on

December 16, 2011
The Senate confirmed Alaska Supreme Court Justice Morgan Christen to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Thursday by a vote of 95-3, three months after she was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Christen will fill one of four vacancies on the Ninth Circuit considered judicial emergencies. “At a time when judges on that circuit are being called upon to handle double the caseload of the other Federal circuit courts, the Senate should have expedited the consideration of Justice Christen’s nomination, not needlessly slowed it down,” said Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) before the vote. “The Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit, Judge Alex Kozinski, a Reagan appointee, along with the members of the Judicial Council of the Ninth Circuit, have written to the Senate emphasizing the Ninth Circuit’s ‘desperate need for judges,’ urging the Senate to ‘act on judicial nominees without delay,’ and concluding that
There are 22 other nominees awaiting an up-or-down vote before the Senate adjourns later this month.
The Senate Judiciary Committee voted out the nomination of Brian C. Wimes to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern and Western Districts of Missouri by a voice vote. It also held a nomination hearing for Paul J. Watford, another of the president’s nominees to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
In the wake of the filibusters of D.C. Circuit nominee Caitlin Halligan and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau nominee Richard Cordray, the nonpartisan group "No Labels," run by former Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) and Bill Galston, a former senior adviser to President Clinton, is calling for a plan to end gridlock in Congress that includes filibuster reform. In an op-ed in Politico, Davis suggests up-or-down votes on all presidential nominees within 90 days. In their recent ACS Issue Brief, law professors Richard Painter and Michael Gerhardt also call for time limits on judicial nominations as one of several proposals for reforming the process.
Continuing criticism of the Senate’s recent filibusters has come from ACS Board Member Linda Greenhouse in The New York Times, American Enterprise Institute Resident Scholar Norman Ornstein in Roll Call and numerous editorial boards.
The latest from “In the News
  • “Republicans Call Off Truce on Judicial Nominees,” from Jost on Justice blog
  • “Federal magistrate has a shot at appeals court position, sources say,” from The Tulsa World
  • “Lag in finding appeals judge replacement may slow system,” from The Kennebec Journal
The latest from “Recommended Readings
  • “Bipartisan Calls Build for Nomination Process Reform,” from ACSblog
  • “Specter Salutes Justice Dept, Slams Republicans,” from The Wall Street Journal Law Blog
  • “Broken Senate, Broken Courts,” by the Brennan Center for Justiceblog

Congressional Statements

  • Sen. Boxer on Nomination of Paul Watford for U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Sen. Leahy on Morgan Christen to Ninth Circuit