Recommended Readings

04/14/2014 – ‘Nuclear’ Nominations Aftermath Slows Senate to Crawl
Just how many of President Barack Obama’s nominees will get confirmed this year? If last week is any indication, the answer may depend on whether Democrats once again employ the “nuclear” option to effectively change the Senate’s rules. read full story

04/13/2014 – “Vacancy in Justice: Analyzing the Impact of Overburdened Judges on Sentencing Decisions”
The title of this post is the title of this intriguing empirical paper I just noticed on SSRN. Authored by Jason Best and Lydia Brashear Tiede, here is the abstract: read full story

04/13/2014 – Too Many Federal Court Vacancies in Texas
Texas has 52 U.S. District Court judges -- at least it is supposed to. But, because of foot dragging by the Obama administration and our state's two U.S. senators, almost one-fifth of those positions are vacant. read full story

04/11/2014 – Protect the Senate’s Important ‘Advice and Consent’ Role
The Senate’s constitutional role of “advice and consent” is an essential check on the president’s constitutional power to appoint executive and judicial branch officials.  The Senate is charged with advising the president on his nominations and ultimately giving or withholding its consent.  Yet the current Senate majority seems determined to weaken the Senate’s role and leave the president’s appointment power essentially unchecked. read full story

04/11/2014 – Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell Battle on the Floor
The Senate made a historic change to its rules to limit the power of the minority five months ago. But to some senators, it might as well have happened yesterday. The raw feelings still lingering over Democrats’ unilateral change to the Senate’s filibuster rules were on public display on Thursday, when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) bitterly feuded over each others’ leadership. read full story

04/10/2014 – What The Media Should Know About Those New Judicial Confirmation Numbers
Recent media reports on President Obama's judicial nominations misleadingly suggest that his confirmation record is now better than that of his predecessor George W. Bush, but rampant GOP obstructionism is still contributing to an alarming amount of "judicial emergencies" across the country. read full story

04/10/2014 – Fight Over Rules Delays Spring Break for Democratic Senators
Tensions over changes in the Senate rules late last year resulted in an explosive confrontation between party leaders on the Senate floor and a delayed vacation for Democratic members on Thursday. At issue are two of President Obama's judicial nominations and long-simmering Republican anger over Majority Leader Harry Reid's decision in November to invoke the so-called nuclear option. read full story

04/10/2014 – Harry Reid On Filibuster Reform: Maybe Democrats Should Have Gone Further
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) scuffled with Republicans Thursday over delayed action on President Barack Obama's nominees, and wondered aloud whether Democrats should have gone further when they pushed through last year's contentious filibuster reform.

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04/08/2014 – Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senators in Controversial Judicial Deal
Pennsylvania progressives are looking to scuttle an apparent backroom deal on judicial nominations that the state's two senators are negotiating. read full story

04/08/2014 – Politico Gets Story on Obama Judges Backwards
Ezra Klein launched his new Vox venture on Monday with a piece titled, “How Politics Makes Us Stupid.” Looking at some recent research suggesting that “individuals subconsciously resist factual information that threatens their defining values,” Klein concluded, “People weren’t reasoning to get the right answer; they were reasoning to get the answer that they wanted to be right.” read full story

04/08/2014 – Leahy Defends Senators’ Right to Block Judges in Their States
Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy has again come to the defense of allowing home-state senators to block the nominations of federal judges in their states, even when the senators are Republicans. read full story

04/08/2017 – How to Secede From the Union, One Judicial Vacancy at a Time
Secession can come in many forms—just ask anyone in Texas who cares to discuss the issue with you. One particularly effective strain currently wending its way through America has been largely ignored by reporters, political analysts, and legal scholars, even though it's a bipartisan problem within the federal government itself that undermines the rule of law and hinders the lives of millions of citizens. read full story

04/07/2014 – Critics Continue to Cite Blue Slip Abuse
Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy continues to receive criticism that the blue slip process is delaying judicial nominations. read full story

04/07/2014 – Republicans Create Excellent Roadblocks
The liberal Alliance for Justice is fighting with the conservative Heritage Foundation about judicial nominations during the presidencies of Barack Obama and George W. Bush. Presumably, the winner will be the side that establishes which out-party was responsible for more obstruction. read full story

04/07/2014 – Democratic Panic Watch: The Post-Filibuster, Still-Horrible Nominee Process
So: Nearly half a year had passed since Democrats ended filibusters on nominees for executive branch jobs or federal court seats. They initially got through a bunch of blocked nominees, but they stalled out with picks for the Civil Rights Division of DOJ and surgeon general who were controversialized in conservative media and bailed on by Democrats. read full story

04/07/2014 – Heritage Foundation Gets the Numbers Wrong on Judicial Nominations
Last week, the Heritage Foundation’s Elizabeth Slattery attacked a Washington Post article about the recent uptick in confirmations for President Obama’s judicial nominees, using it to argue that the Senate has treated Obama’s nominees more favorably than those of President George W. Bush. read full story

04/06/2014 – ‘Blue Slips’ Carry Out Constitutional Duty
A New York Times editorial reprinted in Thursday’s paper (“Leahy should end blue slips”) wrongly suggests that an “archaic Senate tradition” is to blame for the Obama administration’s failure to have every judicial vacancy filled. read full story

04/06/2014 – Ronnie White’s Nomination Recalls Past Battles — And Hard Feelings
Nearly 15 years after the U.S. Senate rejected his nomination to be a federal judge on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, Ronnie White is getting a second chance. President Barack Obama has nominated him again for the same type of judgeship. read full story

04/06/2014 – Community Involvement in Federal Judical Selection in the Carter Years – The Georgia Experience
In 1976, Presidential candidate Jimmy Carter argued that judges should be selected on the basis of merit alone; that panels of lawyers and laymen should be appointed to suggest qualified nominees. This was at a time when there were no judges of color on Georgia’s federal courts. read full story

04/04/2014 – Everything’s Bigger in Texas: Judicial Vacancy Edition
There are currently 10 federal judgeships in Texas that have been vacant for an average of nearly two years resulting in a backlog of more than 12,000 cases. read full story

04/03/2014 – Gay, Black Judicial Nominees Quietly Advance In The Senate
It's been a good week for advocates of bringing more diversity to the federal judiciary. Two black, openly gay judicial nominees quietly inched forward in the Senate Judiciary Committee, both poised to leave their mark on history. read full story

04/03/2014 – Nevada Federal Judge Nominee Advances Over Surprise Opposition
Nevada federal judge nominee Richard Boulware advanced in the U.S. Senate on Thursday despite surprise opposition from Republicans who challenged his experience and “aggressive policy positions” he’s taken publicly read full story

04/02/2014 – Texas’s Courts Could Have Decided 19 Years’ Worth of Cases Had Judges Been Appointed on Schedule
More than 19 years’ worth of cases could have been decided by the Texas district and circuit courts had judges been appointed on schedule, according to a new report released today by the Center for American Progress and Progress Texas. Instead, there is a backlog of more than 12,000 cases, denying Texans access to justice. The report, “Texas, Where Are the Judges?”, explores the judicial vacancy crisis in Texas and puts the issue into new context. read full story

04/02/2014 – Report: Vacant Texas Federal Judgeships Languish
Ten federal judgeships have sat vacant in Texas for an average of nearly two years, creating a backlog of more than 12,000 cases, according to a report by two progressive advocacy groups that blame the problem on the state's U.S. senators. read full story

04/01/2014 – The Federal Judiciary in a Post-Nuclear World
The Democrats may be seeing some temporary benefits from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s November decision to go nuclear  and remove the Republicans’ ability to filibuster most nominees. read full story

03/31/2014 – Two Shameful Milestones
When the Senate returns today, it should not celebrate two milestones that it surpassed last week. read full story

03/31/2014 – The One Way Obama’s Judicial Nominees Are A Lot Like George W. Bush’s
Late last week, thirty-two civil rights, workers’ rights and similar organizations signed a letter to senators urging them to recommend judicial nominees to President Obama who “would add needed professional diversity to the judiciary.” “[I]f the judiciary is devoid of judges with prior experience representing civil plaintiffs or otherwise advocating for the public interest,” the letter argues, “it will appear as though the deck is stacked in advance, and public confidence in the courts—the belief that all litigants truly can have their day in court—will erode.” read full story

03/30/2014 – The Senate’s Discourtesy to Judges
The job of federal judge for the Eastern District of North Carolina has been vacant for more than eight years, one of the longest vacancies of 83 on the federal bench around the country. Last June, President Obama nominated Jennifer May-Parker, a federal prosecutor, for the position, but she hasn’t even received a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee because Richard Burr, the state’s Republican senator, is blocking her. read full story

03/27/2014 – Pennsylvania Progressives Race To Stave Off Potential Republican Obama Nominee
Progressives in Pennsylvania are scrambling to derail a deal they say the state's U.S. senators are quietly trying to cut with the White House on a package of judicial nominees, which includes a conservative Republican aligned with groups opposed to abortion rights, gay rights and gun control. read full story

03/27/2014 – A Reagan Judge, a Clinton Judge, a Bush Judge: Does it Really Matter?
When a federal district judge in Michigan ruled recently that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage violated the Constitution, the New York Times noted that the judge, Bernard A. Friedman, had been appointed by President Reagan. That detail wasn’t included in the L.A. Times story. Was that an oversight? read full story

03/27/2014 – The Miseducation of Richard Burr
Say what you want about Marco Rubio, Florida’s Tea Party senator, but when it comes to federal court nominations in need of his approval, at least his constituents know where he stands. read full story

03/27/2014 – Progressive Groups Urge Senators To Stop With All The Corporate Judicial Nominees
With the clock running down on President Barack Obama's time in the White House, more than 30 labor, civil rights and environmental groups are calling on senators to step up their efforts to bring greater professional diversity to the federal bench. read full story

03/26/2014 – Sens. Casey and Toomey Plot Secret Deal to Nominate Tea Party Judge for Western PA District Court
Keystone Progress has learned that a backroom deal by Senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey may result in President Obama appointing a Tea Party lawyer to serve as judge on the Western Pennsylvania District Court[i] in Pittsburgh. read full story

03/26/2014 – “Blue Slip” Delays Mean No Confirmation Hearing for Pending Nominees
When the Senate Judiciary Committee convenes its hearing this morning, not one of the 17 judicial nominees waiting for a confirmation hearing will appear. Instead, they will keep on waiting, even though 14 of them were nominated more than 50 days ago, and even though 8 of those 14 are nominated to vacancies that are now “judicial emergencies.” read full story

03/25/2014 – Marco Rubio Clears Path For First Black, Openly Gay Federal Judge
Florida judicial nominee Darrin Gayles just inched a little closer to becoming the nation's first black, openly gay man to serve as a federal judge. read full story

03/25/2014 – Picking Crops and Picking Judges
The Internet is burning up this afternoon with video leaked by the GOP oppo group American Rising showing Bruce Braley, the presumptive Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in Iowa, deriding the possibility of incumbent Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley, a non-lawyer, becoming chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2015 if Republicans take control of the Senate this year. read full story

03/24/2014 – White House Losing Patience on Judicial Nominations
The White House is losing patience with Republican obstruction and game-playing on judicial nominations. Republicans have continued their obstruction, and even escalated it in retaliation for the limited filibuster reform Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid implemented last year. read full story

03/24/2014 – End The Blue-Slip Filibuster Now!
Back in November, when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid finally countered routine Republican filibustering of judicial and executive branch nominees with a long-overdue change to Senate rules, there was no small amount of Republican outrage. read full story

03/24/2014 – IRS Rule Would Limit Advocacy Over Nominees
Should a nominee for the Supreme Court or Cabinet secretary be considered a "candidate" for federal office under campaign-finance law? read full story

03/24/2014 – White House Feeling Blue Over Blue Slips
In theory, the Senate fight over judicial nominations looked like it’d be resolved by the so-called “nuclear option.” Last fall, the Senate Democratic majority restored majority rule to Obama administration nominees, which meant jurists who could muster 51 votes would reach the federal bench. read full story

03/24/2014 – White House Weighs Next Nuclear Option
Pressure is continuing to mount in President Barack Obama’s base — and within his own White House — to push for a new nuclear option for judicial nominees. The clock is ticking: The Senate’s less likely to vote on any nominees as the November election draws nearer, and a possible Republican takeover of the Senate is looming large. read full story

03/21/2014 – With Clock Ticking Down, Obama Polishes Judicial Legacy
Republicans have a decent shot at taking control of the Senate in November, so President Obama could have as little as nine months left to shape the judiciary he will leave behind. Senate Democrats positioned themselves to help with that endeavor when they eliminated the filibuster for most judicial nominees last November. But Republicans are still finding ways to slow things down. read full story

03/20/2014 – Throwdown Thursday: Judges Matter: The Senate Should Act
It’s an unfortunate truth that the Democratic Party won’t hold onto the Presidency and the majority of the Senate forever. One day, hopefully in the distant future, the Republican Party will hold all the reins of power in Washington again. When this happens, they will be able to enact whatever policies they desire — policies that would make any liberal cringe. read full story

03/18/2014 – Turn Down Boggs’ Nomination for U.S. District Court
In the coming weeks, Sen. Blumenthal will have to choose whether to support the nomination of Michael Boggs to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. read full story

03/18/2014 – The Supreme Court Farm Team
Not so suddenly, there’s an elderly quartet at the Supreme Court. Ruth Bader Ginsburg just turned eighty-one, and she’s followed closely in age by Antonin Scalia, seventy-eight; Anthony Kennedy, seventy-seven; and Stephen Breyer, seventy-five. read full story

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