On the Bench

ACS's Judicial News Roundup

This Week

November 9, 2018

Justice Brett Kavanaugh received his investiture at the Supreme Court of the United States on November 8. The Senate will return from recess on November 13. The Senate Judiciary Committee has noticed a hearing for November 13, though no nominees have been listed. The Committee is also expected to hold an Executive Business Meeting.

As of November 2, there are 144 Article III vacancies, 124 of which are current. There are 71 nominees pending:  32 waiting for Senate floor votes, 15 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 24 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. Of the pending nominees 76% are male, 60% are white males, and 18% are people of color. Of the 160 nominees named by President Trump 84 have been confirmed by the Senate.

For more information, see ACS’s Judicial Nominations Resources.

Previous Weeks

November 2, 2018

After holding two unprecedented hearings during recess despite objection from the Democrats, the Senate Judiciary Committee will not be convening until after the Senate returns from recess on November 13. The Committee is expected to hold a hearing on November 14, as well as an Executive Business Meeting on November 15, during which they will consider 15 judicial nominees.

As of November 2, there are 143 Article III vacancies, 123 of which are current. There are 71 nominees pending:  32 waiting for Senate floor votes, 15 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 24 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. Of the pending nominees 76% are male, 60% are white males, and 18% are people of color. Of the 160 nominees named by President Trump 84 have been confirmed by the Senate.

October 26, 2018

The Senate Judiciary Committee continued to break norms, holding a second hearing during recess despite objection from all Democratic members of the Committee, for three judicial nominees. The result was a practically empty dais, with two Republican Senators and no Democratic Senators in attendance to question nominees the hearing concluded in 40 minutes. A nominee for a 9th Cir. seat in Washington state, Eric Miller, lacked blue slips from both Senators. The other two nominees on the hearing agenda were Bridge Bade (9th Cir., Ariz.) and Karin Immergut (D. Or.).

As of October 26, there are 143 Article III vacancies, 121 of which are current. There are 71 nominees pending:  32 waiting for Senate floor votes, 15 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 24 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. Of the 160 nominees named by President Trump 84 have been confirmed by the Senate.

October 19, 2018

Last week, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell forced confirmation of 15 lower court nominees by threatening to cancel recess ahead of the midterm elections to confirm all judicial nominees waiting for votes. In an unprecedented move, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on October 17, for six nominees, despite the Senate being in recess and despite objection from all Democratic members of the Committee. The result was a practically empty dais, with two Republican Senators and no Democratic Senators in attendance to question nominees. Nominees on the agenda were Allison Rushing (4th Cir., N.C.), Thomas Barber (M.D. Fla.), Wendy Berger (M.D. Fla.), Corey Maze (N.D. Ala.), Rodney Smith (S.D. Fla.), and T. Kent Wetherell (N.D. Fla.). Committee Chair Chuck Grassley plans to hold a hearing next week, including for Eric Miller (9th Cir., Wash.) who lacks support from both home-state Senators. To learn more about norms being broken in the partisan attempt to capture the courts, click here.

As of October 19, there are 143 Article III vacancies, 121 of which are current. There are 71 nominees pending:  32 waiting for Senate floor votes, 12 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 27 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. The Senate has confirmed 84 nominees to lifetime judicial seats, twice the number confirmed at this point in President Obama’s Administration.

October 12, 2018

On October 6, Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court of the United States in a 50-48 vote.

The Trump administration, aided by Senate leadership, continues its quest to dramatically transform the composition of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. District Courts. The Senate has been confirming nominees at an accelerated rate by disregarding norms and traditions like sidestepping the blue slip, ignoring ABA ratings of individual nominees, and stacking hearings.

This week, White House announced intent to nominate 13 men for judicial vacancies: Joseph Bianco (2d Cir., N.Y.), Patrick Bumatay (9th Cir., Cal.), Daniel Collins (9th Cir., Cal.), Kenneth Lee (9th Cir., Cal.), Michael Park (2d Cir., N.Y.), Stanley Bumenfeld (C.D. Cal.), Brian Buescher (D. Neb.), Clifton Corker (E.D. Tenn.), Philip Halpern (S.D.N.Y.), Thomas Marcelle (N.D.N.Y.), Matthew McFarland (S.D. Ohio), Jeremy Rosen (C.D. Cal.), and Mark Scarsi (C.D. Cal.).

On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing for six nominees: Eric Murphy (6th Cir., Ohio), Chad Readler (6th Cir., Ohio), Rossie Alston (E.D. Va.), Pamela Barker (N.D. Ohio), and Sarah Morrison (S.D. Ohio). It was the seventh hearing this Congress with multiple nominees to the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals. Senator Brown (D-Ohio) did not submit blue slips for Murphy or Readler; the fourth and fifth nominees to be given a hearing despite lacking at least one blue slip from a home-state Senator.

On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee reported eight nominees out of Committee: Jonathan Kobes (8th Cir., Neb.) in an 11-10 vote, Kenneth Bell (W.D.N.C.) in an 11-10 vote, Stephanie Gallagher (D. Md.) in a 20-1 vote, Mary McElroy (D.R.I.), in a 19-2 vote, Carl Nichols (D.D.C.) in an 11-10 vote, Martha Pacold (N.D. Ill.) in an 18-3 vote, Mary Rowland (N.D. Ill.) in a 16-5 vote, and Stephen Seeger in a voice vote. Jonathan Kobes was reported despite have a Not Qualified rating from the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary due to lack of relevant experience.

As of October 12, there are 158 Article III vacancies, 135 of which are current. There are 87 nominees pending:  47 waiting for Senate floor votes, 6 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 34 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

October 5, 2018

A cloture vote is scheduled for 10:30 AM, October 5, to end debate on Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. The FBI delivered its report, without having interviewed Dr. Christine Blasey Ford or Kavanaugh, ahead of the October 5 deadline, and Senators were given an opportunity to review a single copy of the report.

ACS’s Vacancy Toolkit has more coverage and analysis on the Kavanaugh nomination.

September 28, 2018

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on September 27, to hear testimony from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh regarding sexual assault allegations. The Committee is scheduled to hold an Executive Business Meeting to consider Kavanaugh’s nomination, despite lack of an FBI investigation into allegations.

As of September 28, there are 156 Article III vacancies, 131 of which are current. There are 75 nominees pending:  39 waiting for Senate floor votes and 9 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 27 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

ACS’s Vacancy Toolkit has more coverage and analysis on the Kavanaugh nomination.

September 21, 2018

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley has ignored calls for a non-partisan investigation of sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh. Instead, Grassley scheduled a hearing for Monday, September 24, at which he intends to have Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh testify. Dr. Blasey Ford’s lawyer has just re-opened talks to consider the terms of the hearing.

As of September 21, there are 156 Article III vacancies, 130 of which are current. There are 75 nominees pending:  39 waiting for Senate floor votes and 9 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 27 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

September 13, 2018

September 13, the Senate Judiciary Committee held an Executive Business meeting to consider Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States along with 3 nominees to the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals and 17 nominees to the U.S. District Courts. Senator Grassley announced the Committee will vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination on September 20, at 1:45 PM, in defiance of Committee rules and requests from Democratic Senators for access to withheld documents. Ultimately, 11 nominees were reported out of Committee: Ryan Nelson (9th Cir., Idaho) in an 11-10 vote, Richard Sullivan (2d Cir., N.Y.) in a 17-4 vote, Gary Brown (E.D.N.Y.) in a 20-1 vote, Stephen Clark (E.D. Mo.) in an 11-10 vote, Diane Gujarati (E.D.N.Y.) in a 21-0 vote, Eric Komitee (E.D.N.Y.) in a 21-0 vote, Rachel Kovner (E.D.N.Y.) in a 21-0 vote, Lewis Liman (S.D.N.Y.) in a 17-4 vote, John Sinatra (W.D.N.Y.) a 16-5 vote, Mary Vyskocil (S.D.N.Y.) in a 21-0 vote, Joshua Wolson (E.D. Pa.) in an 18-3 vote.

Senator McConnell announced he intends to keep the Senate in session for the month of October to clear the decks of nominees to the lower courts.

As of September 14, there are 155 Article III vacancies, 129 of which are current. There are 75 nominees pending:  39 waiting for Senate floor votes and 7 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 29 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

September 7, 2018

Today is the fourth day of hearings on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s (D.C. Cir.) nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States and will feature panels of witnesses. Documents formerly designated “committee confidential” released over the objection of Republican senators after the second day of hearings shed new light on Judge Kavanaugh’s views regarding reproductive rights, racial profiling, affirmative action, as well as possible misrepresentations he made in previous testimony before the committee. 

On September 6, the Senate voted to confirm eight nominees to the U.S. District Courts. The nominees were Alan Albright (W.D. Tex.), Kari Dooley (D. Conn.), Marilyn Horan (W.D. Pa.), William Jung (M.D. Fla.), Dominic Lanza (D. Ariz.), Robert Summerhays (W.D. La.), Eric Tostrud (D. Minn.), and C.J. Williams (N.D. Iowa). All of the nominees were confirmed in voice votes, except for Dominic Lanza, who was confirmed in a 60-35 vote, and C.J. Williams in a 79-12 vote.

As of September 7, there are 155 Article III vacancies, 129 of which are current. There are 74 nominees pending:  28 waiting for Senate floor votes and 18 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 29 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

August 31, 2018

The hearings on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s (D.C. Cir.) nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States will commence on September 4. ACS will be posting updates at the hearings progress.

On August 28, the Senate voted to confirm seven nominees to the U.S. District Courts with bipartisan support in an attempt to clear the judicial nominations docket before Labor Day. The nominees were Barry Ashe (E.D. La.), R. Stan Baker (S.D. Ga.), Susan Baxter (W.D. Pa.), Nancy Brasel (D. Minn.), Charles Goodwin (W.D. Okla.), Terry Moorer (S.D. Ala.), James Sweeney II (S.D. Ind.). All of the nominees were confirmed in voice votes, except for Charles Goodwin, who was confirmed in a 52-42 vote. Charles Goodwin is the sixth nominee to be confirmed this Congress with at least a partial Not Qualified rating from the American Bar Association Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary.

On August 28, the President nominated four individuals for vacancies in the federal courts: Bridge Bade (9th Cir., Ariz.), Allison Rushing (4th Cir., N.C.), J.P. Boulee (N.D. Ga.), and James Cain Jr. (W.D. La.).

As of August 30, there are 163 Article III vacancies, 134 of which are current. There are 83 nominees pending: 36 waiting for Senate floor votes and 18 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 29 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

August 23, 2018

In response to this week’s conviction of President Trump’s former campaign manager and the guilty plea of his former lawyer that directly implicated the President in criminal activity many Senators are calling for postponement of the hearing on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States.

On August 22, Majority Leader McConnell filed cloture on 12 nominees to the U.S. District Courts in an attempt to clear the judicial nominations docket before Labor Day with bipartisan support, thereby confirming even more Trump judges. The nominees are Alan Albright (W.D. Tex.), Barry Ashe (E.D. La.), R. Stan Baker (S.D. Ga.), Susan Baxter (W.D. Pa.), Charles Goodwin (W.D. Okla.), Marilyn Horan (W.D. Pa.), William Jung (M.D. Fla.), Dominic Lanza (D. Ariz.), Terry Moorer (S.D. Ala.), James Sweeney II (S.D. Ind.), Robert Summerhays (W.D. La.), and C.J. Williams (N.D. Iowa).

On August 22, The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on six nominees this week:  Jonathan Kobes (8th Cir., S.D.), Kenneth Bell (W.D.N.C.), Carl Nichols (D.D.C.), Martha Pacold (N.D. Ill.), Mary Rowland (N.D. Ill.), and Steven Seeger (N.D. Ill.).

As of August 23, there are 168 Article III vacancies, 141 of which are current. There are 86 nominees pending:  43 waiting for Senate floor votes and 18 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 25 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

August 17, 2018

In a further breakdown of norms, Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) announced that the hearing to consider Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court will take place September 4-7, 2018, despite the lack of a full record from Judge Kavanaugh’s time in President George W. Bush’s Administration.

On August 16, the Senate confirmed A. Marvin Quattlebaum (4th Cir., S.C.) in a 62-28 vote and Julius Richardson (4th Cir., S.C.) in a 81-8 vote.

As of August 16, there are 168 Article III vacancies, 141 of which are current. There are 86 nominees pending:  43 waiting for Senate floor votes and 10 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 33 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.