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Politico: “Problems getting judges confirmed by the Senate have been a constant complaint for this White House — but this week, President Barack Obama’s aides are celebrating a confirmation count that outpaces President George W. Bush’s.”
9th Circuit press release: “The United States Senate today confirmed President Obama’s nomination of Los Angeles attorney John B. Owens to serve as a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Confirmation came by a vote of 56-43.”
The Dallas Morning News: “The Senate Judiciary swiftly approved the nomination of Texas Judge Gregg Costa Thursday, sending his fate to the hands of the full Senate. Costa, a federal district judge in Galveston, is up for a seat on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. He passed the committee with a voice vote and no senators voiced opposition.”
Associated Press: “‘During his time as a legislator in the Georgia General Assembly, Boggs demonstrated a troubling lack of concern for individuals whose experience and personal history differ from his own, creating a record that lacks a demonstrated commitment to fairness and equal justice with respect to issues of reproductive freedom, civil rights, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equality,’ the groups wrote to the 10 Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee.”
Associated Press: “The New Jersey Bar Association is urging the reappointment of the chief justice of the state Supreme Court, telling Gov. Chris Christie that a refusal to rename him would represent ‘an unprecedented intrusion of politics’ into the judiciary.”
Politico: “Monday’s expected confirmation of Robert Wilkins to the D.C. Circuit Court will be the latest judicial win for the White House — not just because he’s the third of the three nominees the president announced in June to increase pressure on Senate Republicans, but because he’s the 41st African-American Obama’s gotten confirmed for the bench.”
Blog of the Legal Times: The Senate is expected to confirm U.S. District Judge Robert Wilkins to a key Washington federal appeals court Monday afternoon. The Senate voted 55-38 . . .
Richard Wolf at USA Today: Issues ranging from same-sex marriage to legislative prayer also have offered justices a difficult question: How much weight should be given to centuries of historical practices?
NY Times: With his strong-armed change to the filibuster rule and an iron-fisted control of the Senate floor, Senator Harry Reid has engaged in the greatest consolidation of congressional power since Newt Gingrich ruled the House, unleashing a bitterness that may derail efforts to extend unemployment insurance.
Tex Parte Blog: It’s a new year in Washington, D.C. Back on Dec. 19, 2013, President Barack Obama nominated his first Texan, U.S. District Judge Gregg Costa of Galveston (pictured), to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Today, despite U.S. Sen. John Cornyn’s massive differences with the president over just about everything, the Lone Star State’s senior senator blessed that nomination.
Blog of the Legal Times: The Senate Judiciary Committee renewed its push to confirm a long slate of judicial nominees today, but the 29 judges set for a vote today will have to wait another week.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: U.S. District Court nominee James D. Peterson of Wisconsin assured a Senate committee Wednesday his past work on behalf of the Freedom From Religion Foundation would play no role in his actions as a federal judge.
Montgomery Advertiser: Civil rights advocates are encouraging President Barack Obama to nominate an African-American to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which would be a first from Alabama.
“Fraternal Order of Police Sends Scathing Letter to Obama Opposing ‘Race-Baiting’ Civil Rights Nominee”
Townhall: President Obama has nominated attorney Debo Adegbile to head the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. Adegbile has a long history of advocating for the release of unrepentant and convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.
News.Delaware.gov: Governor Markell today announced the nomination of Chancellor Leo E. Strine, Jr. to serve as the eighth Chief Justice of Delaware’s Supreme Court. If confirmed by the Delaware Senate, Chancellor Strine will succeed the Honorable Myron Steele as the highest ranking member of the state’s judiciary.
Miami Herald: “The nomination of Judge William Thomas was returned by the Senate and Senator Rubio has made his objection clear, so the President chose not to renominate him,” a White House aide told the Tampa Bay Times.
Blog of the Legal Times: Only one of President Barack Obama’s judicial nominations has a clear path to Senate confirmation this year—U.S. District Judge Robert Wilkins, nominated to a key Washington federal appeals court.
David Rivkin and Lee Casey at Wall Street Journal (via Google): Later this month the Supreme Court will hear a case that should resolve how much latitude presidents have to make recess appointments to federal offices that otherwise require Senate confirmation. The boundary of this power has never been decided by the high court. Yet the entire scheme of the U.S. Constitution—which is based on a separation of powers, enforced through checks and balances to safeguard individual liberty—is at stake. Noel Canning v. NLRB involves several recess appointments President Obama made to the National Labor Relations Board on Jan. 4, 2012.
Mark Walsh at ABA Journal: In NLRB v. Noel Canning, the justices will consider whether the president’s recess-appointment power applies to intersession or intrasession position vacancies, or both.
Russell Wheeler at the Brookings Institute: Changing Composition of Court of Appeals Obama, in terms of the party of the president who appointed circuit judges in active status, has not able to put as much of an imprint on the courts of appeals as did Bush by the end of his fifth year. Obama had a circuit confirmation rate about the same as Bush’s, but Bush inherited an appellate judiciary split evenly between Republican and Democratic appointees, with 26 vacancies. He was able by the end of 2005 to shift that split to 59 percent Republican appoints (and 60 percent by the end of eight years). Obama inherited that 60-40 split. At the end of 2013 it slightly tilted to Democratic appointees (52% to 48%). (Table 12) In 2009, seven courts of appeals had a majority of Republican appointees among their active status judges. Today, seven of them have Democratic-appointee majorities.
Daily Journal (AP): White House officials said in a statement Thursday that U.S. District Court Judge for the Northern District of Georgia, Julie E. Carnes, has been nominated to serve in the court of appeals.
Dallas Morning News: Ending a long drought for Texas judicial picks, President Obama has decided to elevate federal judge Gregg Costa of Galveston to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, a White House aide said Thursday.
The Hill: Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) on Thursday criticized Senate Democrats for moving to confirm a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official who is currently under investigation for abusing his current position, something the Senate was preparing to do early Friday morning.
The Hill: Senate Republicans will let their rank-and-file members leave town for the Christmas break, leaving Democrats to vote around the clock to confirm the latest batch of President Obama’s nominees.
The Hillhttp://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/senate/193439-gop-balks-at-obamas-human-rights-nominee: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday is scheduled to tackle the nomination of Keith Harper to become the U.S. Representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council. Harper was a major donor to Obama’s reelection effort in 2012.
The Hill: Stinging from Senate Democrats’ gutting of the filibuster, Senate Republicans will use their private caucus lunch Tuesday to decide on their strategy for holding back a string of nominees.
NRO Bench Memos: While you were (hopefully) sleeping last night, the Senate voted 51–44 to confirm the nomination of Cornelia Pillard, one of President Obama’s most controversial judicial nominees. Red-state Democrats had to make a choice at the vote shortly before 1 a.m.: Would they represent their constituents at home, or continue to vote in lockstep with the president under cover of night?
Blog of the Legal Times: The Senate confirmed Georgetown University Law Center professor Cornelia “Nina” Pillard to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit early this morning, amid escalating political bickering over a rules change that allowed for the vote. The 51-44 vote finished at about 1:15 a.m. . . .
NPR: The Supreme Court agreed Monday to Sen. Mitch McConnell’s request to let Senate Republicans participate in the high-profile case Noel Canning v. National Labor Relations Board.
AP: President Barack Obama’s choice to head the Internal Revenue Service goes before a Senate committee Tuesday to face tough questions about the agency’s targeting of tea party groups and its ability to administer parts of the president’s health law.
AP: The Senate voted 56-38 to approve Washington lawyer Patricia Millett’s nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
National Review Bench Memos: For starters, the filibuster is a red herring. Cohen claims “dozens” of Obama nominees have been stopped by the filibuster; in fact, there have been only eight successful filibusters during all of Obama’s tenure in the White House, for six different nominees. One of those was later confirmed. That’s a total of five nominees blocked by the filibuster. Meanwhile, 209 Obama nominees have been confirmed.
Blog of the Legal Times: As a result, the argument in NLRB v. Noel Canning will run 90 minutes instead of the usual 60. Miguel Estrada of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher had asked the court on November 25 for additional time on behalf of his client Sen. Mitch McConnell, (R-Kentucky) and 44 other senators who object to Obama’s appointments.
AP: Fresh from shackling the traditional blocking ability of the Senate’s minority party, Democrats are ready to muscle through President Barack Obama’s nominees for pivotal judgeships and other top jobs.
Politico: The nominees that top Democrats are racing to approve are: Janet Yellen to lead the Federal Reserve, Jeh Johnson to lead the Department of Homeland Security, Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) to oversee the Federal Housing Finance Agency and D.C. Circuit judicial nominees Patricia Millett, Nina Pillard and Robert Wilkins.
Ken Klukowski at Breitbart: Winning a battle that costs you a war is no victory. The silver lining from President Obama’s and Senate Democrats’ unprecedented power grab last week is that now a conservative Republican president can appoint a Supreme Court that will restore the Constitution to its historical place in our nation’s life, revitalizing limited government and safeguarding fundamental rights.
The Hill: Nonetheless, allies of the White House predict a “good chunk” of their priority nominees will clear before the Senate concludes its final two weeks of work in 2013. Here are the nominations Obama wants the most.
Volokh Conspiracy: Last week, I joined with Michael Ramsey (San Diego) Michael Rappaport (San Diego), Chris Green (Mississippi), Gary Lawson (Boston University), John McGinnis (Northwestern) and Todd Zywicki (George Mason) on an amicus Brief of Originalist Scholars in NLRB v. Noel Canning.
LifeNews: “Early in the 2010 election cycle WyWatch warned voters that then Gubernatorial Candidate Matt Mead was not pro-life,” Becky Vandeberghe, the chair of the WyWatch PAC told LifeNews today. “Today he solidified that perception in thousands of pro-life voters’ minds when he publicly announced he has appointed previous NARAL Attorney and advocate, Kate Fox to the Wyoming Supreme Court.”
How Appealing links to the report and several filings in connection.
Ed Whelan at National Review Online: There is in fact no reason to believe that any of the nominees is genuinely a moderate. For example, Patricia Millett, supposedly the most moderate of the three, is a member of the board of trustees of the left-wing Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
Washington Post: White House aides and their allies said they have yet to finalize plans for how to push through another 186 executive nominees and 50 judicial nominees awaiting confirmation in the Senate.
Washington Post: The gradual diminishment of the filibuster is inevitable now that Democrats have set off the “nuclear option,” experts say, and that could have much broader ramifications down the line. “From here on in, the filibuster is likely to be eroded, bit by bit,” Michael Mezey, political scientist at DePaul University, said Friday in an email.
Bipartisan approval lends a sense of balance to the judiciary | J. Harvie Wilkinson III at Washington Post
J. Harvie Wilkinson III at Washington Post: It is far beyond my purview to comment on the impact last week’s events will have on the Senate as an institution, but the impact on the institution of the federal courts will, over time, be severe. A return to bipartisan understandings in the judicial nominations process would help to keep the courts above political rancor and would serve this country well.
Wall Street Journal: The federal judiciary, already ideologically polarized over contentious legal questions, may see the divide grow deeper after the Senate voted Thursday to permit confirmation of lower-court nominees by simple majority vote.
Blog of the Legal Times: Sherry Trafford of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia and Steven Wellner, an administrative law judge in the D.C. Office of Administrative Hearings, were nominated last night.
Will Baude at Volokh Conspiracy: What has the Senate actually done so far, with respect to the filibuster? Some of the reports of what happened today say that the Senate has adopted “new rules” eliminating the filibuster for some purposes. I’m not sure that’s true, in a formal sense. As I understand what happened, the Senate voted to ignore the current filibuster rule (on constitutional grounds). It did not vote to change it.
Jonathan Adler at Volokh Conspiracy: In May 2005, the NYT editorial board insisted that the filibuster of judicial nominations was “part of the Senate’s time-honored deliberative role and of its protection of minority rights.” Invocation of the “nuclear option,” the Times insisted, would “desecrate” this tradition. “The damage would be incalculable,” the Times warned.
The Hill: “This has been escalating for a long period of time and it was time to stop it and that’s what we did this morning,” Harkin said. “Now we need to take it a step farther and change the filibuster rules on legislation.”
The Hill: The heart of this action is directed at packing the D.C. Circuit because that is the court that will review the lawless behavior of the Obama administration implementing ObamaCare,” he said.
NY Times: “This is the most important and most dangerous restructuring of Senate rules since Thomas Jefferson wrote them at the beginning of our country,” declared Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee. “It’s another raw exercise of political power to permit the majority to do whatever it wants whenever it wants to do it.”
Fox News: Majority Leader Harry Reid, moving quickly following days of speculation, used the so-called “nuclear option” to pass the change. Typically, major changes like this take 67 votes, but he did it with just a simple majority.
Jonathan Adler at Volokh Conspiracy: In February 2003, Miguel Estrada became the first ever nominee to a federal appellate court to be successfully filibustered when a majority of Senate Democrats voted against cloture on his nomination. Estrada had been nominated to fill on a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and was widely seen as a potential Supreme Court nominee.
TIME: Senate Democratic leadership aides tell TIME that the move is preemptive; when the Republicans eventually take over the Senate, the aides assert that the Republicans will push the button. “That’s just pure fantasy,” says Cornyn.” But, he adds, “Once you decide that a simple majority of the Senate can change the Senate rules, then that’s a two-way street.”
The Hill: Yellen was approved in a vote of 14 to 8, garnering the support of 11 of the panel’s 12 Democrats, as well as three Republicans: Sens. Bob Corker (Tenn.), Tom Coburn (Okla.) and Mark Kirk (Ill.). The remaining seven Republicans on the panel opposed the nomination, as did Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).
Ed Whelan at NRO Bench Memos: I will note, though, that I don’t see how Reid can abolish the filibuster vis-à-vis pending judicial nominees without setting a clear precedent that would enable a future Senate majority, in the very midst of a confirmation battle over a Supreme Court nominee, to abolish the filibuster with respect to that nominee.
National Review Bench Memos: The Washington Post reports that Senator Reid is set to invoke the nuclear option before Thanksgiving . . . I hope he does conservatives the favor. To quote Senator Grassley, “There are a lot more Scalias and Thomases that we’d love to put on the bench.
The Hill: Democrats warned that changes to the Senate’s practices through a ruling of the chair sustained by a simple majority vote would destroy the institution. “I would never, ever consider breaking the rules to change the rules,” Reid told colleagues in April of 2006 during the Senate debate.
Politico: Senate Republicans continued rejection of President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees threatens “the integrity of the Senate and the future of our country,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday.
The Hill: Senate Republicans on Monday blocked a third nominee of President Obama’s to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. In a 53-38 vote, the Senate failed to get the 60 votes necessary to break a Republican filibuster and move to a final confirmation vote on nominee Robert Leon Wilkins.
Washington Post Editorial: Senate Republicans on Monday are likely to take a vote that is unfair, unwise and bad for the functioning of the government. Again.
Politico: The Senate is careening down a path toward yet another war over the filibuster. With Republicans set on Monday to block Robert Wilkins’s nomination to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, both parties’ positions appear hopelessly intractable.
Blog of the Legal Times: The commission is accepting public comments on the senior judges through Jan. 3, 2014. Senior judges are reviewed every four years, or ever two years after age 74; associate judges sit for 15-year terms.
The Hill: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is short of the 50 votes he would need to advance President Obama’s stalled judicial nominees via the “nuclear option,” according to sources who have advocated for filibuster reform.
AP: Senators planned to vote on Obama’s selection of Georgetown University law professor Cornelia Pillard to fill one of three vacancies on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
The National Law Journal: Numbers don’t justify more judicial appointments, so why is Obama pushing? Politics, of course.
Talking Points Memo: For the first time, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has opened the door — slightly — to reforming the filibuster for judges with the so-called nuclear option if Republicans persist in their mass blockade of President Barack Obama’s top judicial nominees.
Emily Bazelon and Dahlia Lithwick at Slate: It’s been a day of body blows for reproductive rights. On Thursday night, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit reversed a lower court’s decision to temporarily block a provision of the omnibus Texas abortion law that requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital.