Monday, April 01, 2024

April 2024 Judiciary News

Nominations, Hearings, Confirmations:

Manchin:  Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) says he will not vote for any judicial nominee who has no support from Republican senators.  This may make it harder for Biden nominees to be confirmed.

3rd Circuit:  The nomination of Adeel Mangi is in danger as three D senators, Joe Manchin, Catherine Cortez Masto, and Jacky Rosen have announced their opposition.  Mangi, who served on the board of advisors for a group that promoted anti-Semitic and anti-Christian events, apologized for failing to disclose his participation in an event with pro-terrorist group CAIR.

4th Circuit:  Carrie Severino exposes the radical record of nominee Nicole Berner.  She was confirmed 50-47.

7th Circuit:  Judge Nancy Moldonado (ND-IL) said that "assault weapons may be banned because they’re extraordinarily dangerous and are not appropriate for legitimate self-defense purposes".  Under questioning by Senator John Kennedy (R-LA), she admitted that she doesn't know what an 'assault weapon' is.

D-DC:  Carrie Severino exposes nominee Amir Ali, who is president of the MacArthur Justice Center, which advocates defunding the police and ending mass incarceration.


The Federal Judiciary:

Sotomayor:  A few voices on the left are calling for Justice Sotomayor to retire this year, while others are reluctant to do so for diversity reasons.  Sotomayor is 69 and has diabetes.

Judge shopping:  The Judicial Conference of the United States announced a policy randomly assign cases seeking nationwide injunctions, ending the ability to file cases in jurisdictions served by one or two judges.  However, after criticism, it admitted that it had no power to enforce this policy and its announcement was only advisory.  The policy would only have affected a few districts in Texas and Louisiana, and would not affect ideologically homogeneous districts in blue states.

Federal Circuit:  Judge Christopher "Casey" Cooper (D-DC) dismissed most of a lawsuit by Judge Pauline Newman (Federal Circuit) challenging her suspension due to alleged disability.  Critics claim she is unable to fulfill her duties, but supporters say she is being mistreated due to her frequent dissents.  The remaining claim targets the constitutionality of the Judicial Conduct and Disability Act.  The Federal Circuit's judicial council is asking for this to be dismissed also.

SD-IL:  Three judges were admonished by the 7th district judicial council for issuing an order in 2020 promising to grant motions in part based on the race and sex of the lawyer who would argue it.  The judges are Nancy Rosenstengel, Staci Yandle, and David Dugan.  Rosenstengel and Yandle were appointed by Obama and Dugan was appointed by Trump.

SD-FL:  Judge Aileen Cannon has had difficulty retaining clerks since being assigned the Trump classified documents case.  The complex, high-profile case has led to long hours and stress for both the judge and her clerks.

Vacancy Declarations:  There are now 74 current and future judicial vacancies.  New vacancies over the past two months are listed below.
MD-NC:  Catherine Eagles (Obama) 12/31/24 (senior)
ND-IL:  Nancy Maldonado (Biden) TBD (elevated)

State Supreme Courts:

Arkansas:  The election was held on March 5.
Chief Justice:  Justice Karen Baker (D) won 27.2% and Justice Rhonda Wood (R) won 26.3%, while Justice Barbara Webb (R) trailed with 25.9% and former state rep Jay Martin (D) was last with 20.6%.  A runoff will be held between Baker and Wood in November.  Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R) will appoint a replacement for whichever justice wins.
Seat 2:  Seat 3 incumbent Courtney Rae Hudson won 61-39 without a runoff.  Governor Sanders will appoint a replacement to Seat 3.

Massachusetts: Governor Maura Healey (D) nominated Gabrielle Wolohojian to the Supreme Judicial Court.  She clerked for Rya Zobel (D-MA) and Bailey Aldrich (1st Circuit).  She was appointed to the Appeals Court in 2008 by Deval Patrick. Perhaps most notably, Wolohojian is a former romantic partner of Governor Healey.

Michigan: Justice David Viviano (R) will retire from the Michigan Supreme Court in 2024.  He was appointed by Governor Rick Snyder (R) in 2013, and is only 52.  His decision makes it more difficult for Republicans to hold the seat, as incumbent justices receive a special designation on the ballot.  State rep Andrew Fink and Court of Appeals judge Mark Boonstra will seek the R nomination, and law professor Kimberly Ann Thomas will seek the D nomination.

Minnesota:  Justice Barry Anderson will retire on May 10, and Justice Margaret Chutich will retire on July 31.  Anderson was appointed by Tim Pawlenty in 2004, and is the only R appointee on the court.  Chutich was appointed by Mark Dayton in 2016.  Governor Tim Walz (D) will appoint their replacements.

Tennessee: Governor Bill Lee appointed Shelby County Circuit Court judge Mary L. Wagner to the Tennessee Supreme Court.  She is 39 and was appointed to her current position in 2016 by Bill Haslam.
She will replace Justice Roger Page in August 2024.

Texas Supreme Court:  On March 5, incumbent justice John Devine (R) barely won renomination 50.4% to 49.6% against Brian Walker.  Devine faced criticism concerning his work ethic and failure to recuse in one case.

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals:  In the March 5 primary, three R incumbents lost renomination.  The three had ruled that the Texas AG was unable to prosecute voter fraud cases, leading AG Ken Paxton (R) to support challengers to the three.  The results are
Chief:  David Schenck 62.7%, Sharon Keller 37.3%
Place 7:  Gina Parker 66.1%, Barbara Parker Hervey 33.9%
Place 8:  Lee Finley 53.9%, Michelle Slaughter 46.1%

Numbers and Trivia:

8th Circuit: As of March 11, the new chief judge of the 8th Circuit is Steven Colloton, who was appointed by W in 2002.  He replaces Lavenski Smith, who was appointed by W in 2003.  The Presidents who appointed chief judges of the 13 appeals courts are W (2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, Fed), and Obama (1, 4, 9, DC).


Napolitano:  In a recent interview (20 min), Andrew Napolitano mentioned that in 2017, President Trump seriously considered him for the Supreme Court seat that went to Neal Gorsuch.  Napolitano is a former New Jersey judge turned libertarian pundit and Fox News contributor.

On Ed Whelan's Substack, "Confirmation Tales", recent posts deal with George W. Bush's nomination of John Roberts.


Thursday, February 01, 2024

February 2024 Judiciary News

2023 in Review:

Circuit judges: Biden has filled 11 circuit court seats in 2023, for a total of 39 overall. Only 1 of the 11 replaced an R appointee (moderately conservative Brooks Smith). There are 4 more nominees waiting for votes. There are 4 more future vacancies without nominees. There are 14 more D-appointed circuit court judges who are eligible for senior status but have not yet taken it.

Three nominees are in red states (SC, TX, KS) and two in purple states (MT, OH). Three (SC, TX, KS) had support from home state R senators, and two (MT, OH) did not. Only 2 of 11 circuit appointees is a white male (4 of 39 overall). This compares to President Trump’s appointment of 50 Circuit judges in his first three years.

The most votes for a circuit judge was 80 for Irma Carrillo Ramirez, and the smallest margin in 2023 was 2 for Nancy Abudu and Rachel Bloomekatz. Biden’s biggest impact is on the 9th Circuit, where he has appointed 8 judges and the 2nd Circuit (6 judges).

District Judges: Biden appointed 58 district judges, for a total of 126 overall. This compares to President Trump’s appointment of 133 District judges in his first three years.

Three district judges were confirmed by voice vote, Matthew Brookman (SD-IN), Amanda Brailsford (D-ID), and John Russell (ND-OK). Aside from them, the most votes was 67 for Jennifer L. Hall (D-DE). Six judges were confirmed by 1-vote margins (Araceli Martínez-Olguín, Margaret Guzman, Dale Ho, Nusrat Choudhury, Natasha Merle, Loren AliKhan).  Seven (IN, ID, 3 LA, 2 OK) appointees are in red states, and none are in purple states.

Year in Review:  Harsh Voruganti of The Vetting Room reviews judicial nominations in 2023.

Top Stories:  Bloomberg lists what it considers the top five stories on judicial nominations in 2023.

Year in Review:  Carrie Severino reviews judicial nominations in 2023.

Nominations, Hearings, Confirmations:

Judiciary Committee:  The Senate Judiciary Committee voted to subpoena conservative activists Harlan Crow, Robin Arkley, and Leonard Leo as part of their effort to smear conservative judges.  They could only do so by violating their own rules and ignoring amendments put forward by R senators.

Biden nominations: Leftists are worried that Biden will be unable to appoint as many judges as Trump did in his term.

Renomination:  President Biden did not renominate Scott Colom (ND-MS), Charnelle Bjelkengren (ED-WA), Todd Edelman (D-DC), Marian Gaston (SD-CA), and Colleen Holland (WD-NY).  Colom did not get a blue slip from Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith.  Bjelkengren failed basic questioning by Senator Kennedy (R-LA).

Blue Slip:  Leftists are still trying to eliminate the blue slip for district judges, but Senator Durbin does not support this.

3rd Circuit:  Carrie Severino exposes nominee Adeel Mangi, who served on the board of advisors for the Center for Security, Race, and Rights at Rutgers Law School, which has a long history of promoting anti-Semitic and anti-Christian events.

Claims:  Senator John Kennedy stumped nominee Robin Meriweather with the question of what are the grounds for granting a new trial in the Court of Federal Claims.


The Federal Judiciary:

Supreme Court:  The New York Times has a story about the Dobbs abortion case using sources from inside the Supreme Court.  They try to imply that the person who leaked the Dobbs draft was a conservative, but Ed Whelan shows that close reading of the article suggests the opposite.

O'Connor:  Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor died on December 1 at age 93.  She was appointed by Reagan in 1981 and retired in 2006.  She was previously an Arizona state senator (1969-75) and Arizona Court of Appeals judge (1979-81).

Sotomayor:  In a recent speech, Justice Sotomayor said "I live in frustration. And as you heard, every loss truly traumatizes me in my stomach and in my heart."

Federal Circuit:  David Lat recently interviewed Judge Pauline Newman, who was suspended for one year from her duties by the Federal Circuit. Critics claim she is unable to fulfill her duties, but she seems lucid in the interview.  She claims that she is being mistreated due to her frequent dissents and is challenging her suspension in court.

Vacancy Declarations:  There are now 91 current and future judicial vacancies.  New vacancies over the past two months are listed below.
D-MN: Wilhelmina Wright (Obama) 2/15/24 (resigned)
ED-NY: Joan Azrack (Obama) 12/19/24 (senior)
ED-LA: Sarah Vance (Clinton) 1/16/24 (senior)
SD-NY: Lorna Schofield (Obama) 12/31/24 (senior)
4th Circuit: James Wynn (Obama) TBD (senior)
7th Circuit: Ilana Rovner (HW) TBD (senior)
CD-CA: Dale Fischer (W) 5/1/2024 (senior)
11th Circuit: Charles Wilson (Clinton) 12/31/24 (senior)
CD-CA: Philip Gutierrez (W) 10/15/24 (senior)

State Supreme Courts:

Elections:  The AP has a preview of state supreme court elections that are likely to be hotly contested in 2024.

Arkansas:  Two seats are up for election on March 5.  
Chief Justice:  John Dan Kemp is retiring.  Current justices Karen Baker, Barbara Webb, and Rhonda Wood are all seeking the seat.  The final candidate is former state rep Jay Martin (D).
Seat 2: Appointed incumbent Cody Hiland (R) is ineligible to run for reelection.  Seat 3 incumbent Courtney Rae Hudson is seeking this seat on the dubious rationale that she would be able to avoid age limits for a few more years (even though she is only 50).  The other candidate is Circuit Judge Carlton Jones.

Massachusetts:  Governor Maura Healey (D) nominated State Solicitor Elizabeth Dewar to replace Elspeth Cypher, who will retire on January 1.  Dewar clerked for Louis Pollak (ED-PA), William Fletcher (9th Circuit), and Breyer at the Supreme Court.  She was appointed solicitor by Healey in 2016.

Montana:  The Montana Supreme Court ruled 5-2 that the state legislature must pay attorney's fees to lawyers who sued to overturn a bill to reform abuses by Montana's leftist judges.

Tennessee:  The Governor’s Council for Judicial Appointments selected three of six applicants as finalists for a vacancy on the Tennessee Supreme Court.  The seat will be vacated by Justice Roger Page in August.  Governor Bill Lee will get his third appointment to the court.

Wyoming:  Governor Mark Gordon appointed Robert Jarosh to the Wyoming Supreme Court.  Jarosh clerked for Magistrate Judge William Beamon (D-WY) and works in private practice.  He was one of three finalists to replace Justice Keith Kautz, who leaves the court on March 26.

Numbers and Trivia:

Chief Judges: The Presidents who appointed chief judges of the 13 appeals courts are W (2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, Fed) and Obama (1, 4, 9, DC). There are two chief judges that will change in 2024. They are expected to be
5th Circuit (October 4) Priscilla Richman (W) ->  Jennifer Elrod (W)
8th Circuit (March 11) Lavenski Smith (W) -> Steven Colloton (W)

Here are the numbers of senior status declarations/retirements for federal judges (circuit judges) for the past year.

4 (1) January 2023
3 (1) February
8 (0) March/April
2 (0) May
4 (0) June
1 (0) July
7 (0) August/September
13 (1) October/November
2 (0) December 2023

44 (3) Total (2023)
59 (8) Total (2022)
99 (30) Total (2021)


On Ed Whelan's Substack, "Confirmation Tales", recent posts deal with George W. Bush's nomination of federal judges.

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Kalamazoo's War on Motorists: The Parkview/Oakland Intersection

The city of Kalamazoo isn't finishing making life worse for motorists.  Its latest target is the intersection of Parkview/Whites Road and Oakland Drive.

Kalamazoo's War on Motorists: Bicycle Lanes
Kalamazoo's War on Motorists: Downtown Streets

This intersection has long been a problem for motorists.  Both roads are major thoroughfares and should be 4-5 lanes to move traffic efficiently through the city.  Sadly, the planners who designed Kalamazoo long ago made the right of way too narrow on most of these roads for this to be practical.  Only Parkview/Whites between Oakland and Westnedge is (mostly) four lanes.  In fact, it was only 20-30 years ago that Oakland (between Parkview and Kilgore) and Parkview (between Oakland and Greenleaf Boulevard) were widened from two to three lanes.

When traffic is heavy, it becomes difficult to move it all through the intersection in a timely manner, and traffic tends to back up on both roads.  To address this problem, a decade ago the city of Kalamazoo added extra through lanes to Parkview and Oakland to double the volume of traffic that could travel straight through the intersection.  The extra lanes end soon after the intersection, so drivers can merge into a single lane once they are safely past the traffic light.

This year, Kalamazoo's city planners decided to sabotage their work from a decade ago.  The extra through lanes have been eliminated by the addition of "bump-outs" at the intersection.  This would seem to create a safety hazard, since most of the lanes are still there, but they suddenly disappear at the intersection.

The motive for the change is baffling.  My best guess is that it is supposed to help pedestrians, on the theory that they can cross a three lane road, but find a four lane road an insuperable challenge.  Not surprisingly, the change has already made the intersection worse for drivers.

To add insult to injury, Whites road will soon undergo a "road diet", reducing from four lanes to three and further complicating life for Kalamazoo's motorists.  Driving in Kalamazoo will continue to get worse as long as the the same fools are in charge of the city.

Thursday, November 30, 2023

December 2023 Judiciary News

Nominations, Hearings, Confirmations:

Judiciary Committee:  The late senator Dianne Feinstein’s seat on the Senate Judiciary Committee will be filled by Laphonza Butler (D-CA), just as she filled Feinstein's senate seat.

Judiciary Committee:  Senate Ds are planning to subpoena conservative activists Harlan Crow, Robin Arkley, and Leonard Leo as part of their effort to smear conservative judges.  The committee stalled due to R opposition to the plan, including threats to subpoena numerous leftist individuals and organizations.

ND-OK:  Under questioning from Sen. John Kennedy, nominee Sara Hill was unable to explain the difference between a "stay" order and an "injunction" order.

SD-FL:  The White House finally reached a deal with Florida's R senators on judicial nominations.  Notably, the deal includes David Leibowitz, "nephew of billionaire Norman Braman, a longtime Rubio benefactor", who was considered but not nominated under Trump.


The Federal Judiciary:

Ethics:  The Supreme Court issued a code of ethics, largely codifying its existing practices.  While this is likely a response to leftist attacks on the court, it is unlikely that critics will be satisfied.

3rd Circuit:  Maryanne Trump Barry, older sister of former president Trump, died in November at age 86.  She was appointed to D-NJ by Reagan in 1983 and to the 3rd Circuit by Clinton in 1999.  She took senior status in 2011 and retired in 2019.

Vacancy Declarations:  There are now 97 current and future judicial vacancies.  New vacancies over the past month are listed below.
ED-LA: Eldon Fallon (Clinton) 1/1/24 (senior)
ED-MO: Ronnie White (Obama) 7/31/24 (retired)
ED-CA: Kimberly Mueller (Obama) 9/17/24 (senior)
D-MD: James Bredar (Obama) 4/30/24 (senior)
SD-OH: Algernon Marbley (Clinton) TBD (senior)
CD-IL: James Shadid (Obama) 9/27/24 (senior)
ND-CA: Edward Davila (Clinton) TBD (senior)
MD-PA: Malachy Mannion (Obama) 1/3/24 (senior)
D-AZ: G. Murray Snow (W) 10/21/24 (senior)
1st Circuit: William Kayatta (Obama) TBD (senior)
D-MA: Patti Saris (Clinton) TBD (senior)
ND-IL: Rebecca Pallmeyer (Clinton) 8/1/24 (senior)
MD-FL: Timothy Corrigan (W) 11/2/24 (senior)

State Supreme Courts:

Hawaii:  Governor Josh Green (D) nominated Lisa Ginoza and Vladimir Devens to fill the Hawaii Supreme Court seats vacated by Justices Michael Wilson and Paula Nakayama.  Ginoza is chief judge of the Intermediate Court of Appeals, and has served on it since 2010.  Devens is a labor attorney in private practice.

Idaho:  Governor Brad Little appointed Cynthia Meyer to the Idaho Supreme Court.  She was appointed a district judge by Butch Otter in 2015.  She was one of four people nominated by the Idaho Judicial Council for the seat being vacated by John Stegner.

Massachusetts:  Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Justice David Lowy will retire from the court on February 3, 2024 to become general counsel for University of Massachusetts.  He was appointed by Charlie Baker in 2016.  Governor Maura Healey (D) will appoint replacements for Lowy and Elspeth Cypher, who will retire on January 12. 

Missouri:  Governor Mike Parson (R) appointed Missouri Court of Appeals judge Ginger Gooch to the seat on the Missouri Supreme Court vacated by Justice Patricia Breckenridge.  She was appointed to the Missouri Court of Appeals in 2022.  The other two finalists for the position were Missouri Court of Appeals judges Michael Gardner and John Torbitzky, who were among 22 applicants for the position.  Gooch and Gardner were finalists for the previous vacancy in August.

New Hampshire:  New Hampshire Supreme Court Justice Gary Hicks will be age-limited on November 30.  He was appointed by John Lynch (D) in 2006.  Governor Chris Sununu (R) has nominated Melissa Beth Countway to the seat.  She was appointed to the circuit court by Sununu in 2017 and was previously a county prosecutor.  If the NH Executive Council votes to confirm the nomination, the NH Supreme Court will have 4R and 1D appointees.

Pennsylvania:  Daniel McCaffery (D) defeated Carolyn Carluccio (R) 53-47 for an open seat on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.  The seat was previously held by Max Baer (D), but had been open for a year after his death.  The court will again be 5D, 2R.

Tennessee:  Justice Roger Page will retire in August 2024.  He was appointed in 2016 by Bill Haslam.  Governor Bill Lee will get his third appointment to the court.

Wyoming:  Wyoming Supreme Court Justice Keith Kautz will leave the court on March 26 due to age limits.  He was appointed by Matt Mead in 2015.  Governor Mark Gordon (R) will get his second appointment to the court.


On Ed Whelan's Substack, "Confirmation Tales", recent posts deal with Bill Clinton's nomination of federal judges.

Saturday, September 30, 2023

October 2023 Judiciary News

Nominations, Hearings, Confirmations:

D-AK:  Senator Dan Sullivan (R) formed a new council to vet potential federal judges without involving Senator Lisa Murkowski (R).  One of three seats on D-AK has been vacant since 2021.

WD-NY: Colleen Holland-clerk for Colleen Wolford (WD-NY), Michael Telesca (WD-NY)
SD-TX: John A. Kazen-clerk for Robert Parker (ED-TX), Magistrate Judge (SD-TX)
D-HI: Micah W. J. Smith-clerk for Souter, Guido Calabresi (2nd Circuit), AUSA (D-HI)
D-NJ: Jamel Semper-AUSA (D-NJ)
D-OR: Mustafa Kasubhai-Magistrate Judge (D-OR)
ED-CA: Kirk Sherriff-AUSA (ED-CA)
D-HI: Shanlyn Park-state judge

The Federal Judiciary:

Recusal:  Carrie Severino points out that Justice Ginsberg regularly violated the ethical standards that the left uses to attack Justice Thomas.

2nd Circuit:  Judge Rosemary Pooler died in August at age 85.  President Clinton appointed her to ND-NY in 1994 and to the 2nd Circuit in 1998.  She took senior status in 2022.

6th Circuit:  Judge Julia Smith Gibbons will take senior status upon confirmation of a successor.  She was appointed to a state judgeship by Lamar Alexander (R).  She was appointed by Reagan to WD-TN in 1983 and by W to the 6th Circuit in 2002.  She choose to repay all the Republicans who gave her those positions by giving her seat to a Biden appointee.

Federal Circuit:  Judge Pauline Newman (age 96) was suspended for one year from her duties by the Federal Circuit.  Critics claim she is unable to fulfill her duties, and she has refused to submit to medical testing.  They rejected the tests that she did submit.  She claims that she is being mistreated due to her frequent dissents.

Vacancy Declarations:  There are now 95 current and future judicial vacancies.  New vacancies over the past month are listed below.
WD-VA: Michael Urbanski (Obama) 7/4/24 (senior)
D-AZ: James Soto (Obama) 7/1/24 (senior)
D-AZ: Douglas Rayes (Obama) 6/1/24 (senior)
SD-IN: Jane Magnus-Stinson (Obama) 7/1/24 (senior)
CD-CA: George Wu (W) 11/3/23 (senior)
D-VT: Geoffrey Crawford (Obama) 8/9/24 (senior)
Claims: Patricia Campbell Smith (Obama) 9/30/23 (retired)

State Supreme Courts:

Connecticut:  Governor Ned Lamont appointed Nora Dannehy to the Connecticut Supreme Court.  She was a US Attorney for D-CT and general counsel to Lamont.  His previous nominee, Sandra Slack Glover, withdrew her nomination after progressives attacked her for signing a letter supporting the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett.

Hawaii:  Hawaii's Judicial Selection Commission produced a list of six nominees for two vacant seats on the Hawaii Supreme Court.  Governor Josh Green (D) will fill the seats vacated by Justices Michael Wilson and Paula Nakayama.

Idaho:  Nine candidates have applied for the seat on the Idaho Supreme Court being vacated by John Stegner.  One of them is former Idaho AG Lawrence Wasden, who lost the R primary in 2022.  The Idaho Judicial Council will interview candidates on October 18.

Minnesota:  Governor Tim Walz (D) appointed Justice Natalie Hudson as chief justice.  Hudson was appointed to the court by Mark Dayton in 2015.  She replaces Lorie Gildea, who retires on October 1.  Walz also appointed Karl Procaccini to Hudson's seat.  He clerked for Michael Davis (D-MN) and Diana Murphy (8th Circuit) and was Walz' general counsel for four years.

Missouri:  Governor Mike Parson (R) appointed Missouri Court of Appeals judge Kelly Broniec to the Missouri Supreme Court.  She is 52 and was appointed by Parson in 2020.  The other finalists recommended by the Missouri Appellate Judicial Commission were Missouri Court of Appeals judges Michael Gardner and Ginger Gooch.  The seat was vacated by George Draper III on August 5 due to age limits.

Montana:  The Office of Disciplinary Counsel, a body subordinate to the Montana Supreme Court (MSC), has filed a complaint against AG Austin Knudsen (R) for criticizing the MSC.  Specifically, he supposedly "undermined public confidence in the fairness and impartiality of our system of justice by attempting to evade the authority of the Montana Supreme Court and assaulting the integrity of the judiciary" when he criticized them for secretly lobbying against a bill to reform the judiciary.  MSC Chief Justice Mike McGrath and Justice Dirk Sandefur will not seek reelection in 2024.

North Carolina:  North Carolina Supreme Court justice Michael Morgan (D) stepped down in early September.  He announced a campaign for governor in 2024.  Governor Roy Cooper appointed Court of Appeals judge Allison Riggs to replace Morgan.  She worked for the far-left Southern Coalition for Social Justice before being appointed by Cooper in January.  The seat is up for election in 2024.

Oregon:  Governor Tina Kotek appointed Aruna Masih to the Oregon Supreme Court.  She is a labor and civil rights attorney with no judicial experience.  Masih was born in India.  She replaces Adrienne Nelson, who was appointed to D-OR in February.

Wisconsin:  The installation of a new 4-3 leftist majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court has set off a fight both within and outside the court.  The four leftist judges fired the court administrator (possibly illegally) and hired a leftist judge as a replacement (possibly illegally).

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) has floated the idea of impeaching newly-elected justice Janet Protasiewicz.  She is refusing to recuse from a case intended to overturn the state's legislative maps despite having declared them 'rigged' on the campaign trail.  If impeached, she would be suspended from hearing cases until the trial concludes.


On Ed Whelan's Substack, "Confirmation Tales", recent posts deal with Bill Clinton's nomination of federal judges.


Saturday, September 16, 2023

What Does '2000 Mules' Actually Prove?

One of the later-appearing arguments that the 2020 election was stolen appears in the documentary 2000 Mules, hosted by Dinesh D'Souza.  The documentary reports on the claims of the group True the Vote about ballot harvesting in swing states.

True the Vote acquired anonymous cell phone location data from millions of users.  They correlated this with locations of ballot drop boxes, and claimed to find evidence of thousands of 'mules', that is, people who visited multiple drop boxes to deposit ballots.

Ballot harvesting is the practice of collecting ballots from multiple voters to (presumably) deposit them in the mail or a ballot drop box.  This practice is generally legal for immediate family members, but most states make it illegal for strangers or large quantities of ballots.  The reason for this is that ballot harvesting created a risk of voter fraud, as ballots from unsympathetic voters could be discarded.  This occurred in the 2018 congressional election in North Carolina's 9th district, where Mark Harris (R) employed a campaign consultant who was found to have harvested ballots and manipulated them.

Media articles often describe 2000 Mules as 'widely debunked', citing two 'fact check' articles by Reuters and AP written shortly after its release.  There is also a fact check by Mlive focused on Michigan.  The claim that it is 'widely debunked' is an overstatement.  While the articles raise legitimate questions about the film, they cannot debunk it, since they don't have the information to do so.

Additional questions have been raised by conservative commentators Ben Shapiro and Erick Erickson, who found the documentary unpersuasive.  The right-leaning site The Dispatch also did its own fact check.

One criticism deals with the use of cell phone location data.  Several experts say that this data is not as precise as True the Vote claims.  If so, their list of 'mules' likely includes many innocent people who just happened to walk near several drop boxes while out and about.

Another problem is exactly what 2000 Mules claims and does not claim.  They claim there are 2000 mules, but never identify any of them.  They claim to know which organizations they work for, but never identify them either.  The fact that they don't suggests a lack of confidence in their claims.  Of course, if they are wrong, they would likely be sued by the individuals and groups they identify.

The movie shows some people taking selfies while depositing ballots in drop boxes.  They claim this is how the mules provide proof of their work.  However, they never show video of the same person depositing ballots in more than one location, which is what they claim the cell phone data shows.

Subsequent questioning has revealed more reasons to doubt the thesis of 2000 Mules.  It is important to remember that while ballot harvesting is illegal in most states, that does not mean that the ballots are themselves illegal.  Under questioning by the Wisconsin legislature, Catherine Engelbrecht admitted that they were not claiming that any of the ballots they claim were harvested were illegal.  If a legitimate voter gives a ballot to a harvester, the harvesting may be illegal, but the ballot is not.

Creating hundreds of thousands of illegal votes would be very difficult.  To be counted, a vote must correspond to a registered voter, so a fraudster cannot just make up names for their fraudulent ballots.  If they try to use the names of real registered voters, there is a high risk that multiple ballots will be received using the same name, which would trigger an immediate investigation.  This did not happen in the 2020 election.

Despite (or because of) the questions about their validity, the claims of 2000 Mules and True the Vote have made should be investigated and proved true or false once and for all.  In fact, the Georgia Secretary of State is trying to do that.  He has requested the evidence True the Vote says it has.  They are refusing to turn it over, so he has filed suit to force them to do so.

This development makes it appear very doubtful that the claims of 2000 Mules are true.

Friday, September 08, 2023

Rallies Don't Decide Elections

One of the most common arguments that the 2020 election was stolen concerns Trump's rallies.  In particular, it is commonly asked how Trump could have lost when he had huge rallies and Biden didn't.

To answer this question, we should first note that it is true that Trump had many rallies of up to 20000 people, while Biden had almost no rallies at all.  However, it is important to remember that elections are decided by voting, not rally attendance.  The overall electorate of 150,000,000 people is far larger than the number of people who go to political rallies.

The size of rally crowds is an imperfect proxy for voter enthusiasm.  But enthusiastic votes and reluctant votes both count the same.  A candidate can have very enthusiastic supporters without having a large enough base overall.  For example, in 2008 and 2012 Ron Paul had large rallies, but he ended up with 11% of the popular vote in the 2012 primary.

Also, comparing rally sizes is unfair given that Biden never tried to hold any large rallies.  Aside from the fact that Biden wasn't inspiring, a major reason for this was the fear of COVID, which by mid-2020 was more pronounced on the left than on the right.

The focus on rallies seems to reflect flaws in the strategy of the Trump campaign.  While rallies have some value, they tend to primarily fire up people who were already going to vote for Trump.  Meanwhile, the Biden campaign was focused on getting people to vote using early voting and mail-in ballots.  Trump's campaign actually discouraged people from using these measures due to overblown (though not entirely baseless) election security concerns.

But why did so many voters turn out for Biden?  Because they weren't for Biden, they were against Trump.  To return to rallies, while there were essentially no pro-Biden rallies, there were many anti-Trump rallies.  Early in 2017, the Women's March drew 3-5 million people nationwide.  Then the March for Science drew hundreds of thousands nationwide.  Both these rallies were explicitly against Trump and his administration.  In May 2020 and following, the Black Lives Matter movement had thousands of protests attended by millions of people nationwide.  While BLM was not explicitly about Trump, it certainly was not friendly to him.

Thus we find that anti-Trump protests dwarfed pro-Trump rallies.  Even by the metric of rally sizes, the result of the 2020 election should be no surprise.

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Michigan GOP Disaster Continues

After the last election, I explained the sorry state of the Michigan GOP.

The Michigan GOP is a Disaster

In conclusion, I wrote

The Michigan GOP has a choice.  It could continue to embrace conspiracy nonsense and use MAGA messaging that only speaks to the activist base.  Or it can face reality and appeal to winnable voters with a conservative platform that speaks to their concerns.  A test of which direction the party will choose will come at the next Michigan GOP convention in February, which will elect the new party leadership.
There were 11 candidates for chair, though only three attracted significant support.  Scott Greenlee is a political consultant with a long history of working on campaigns in Michigan.  Matt DePerno is a trail lawyer who had almost no history in the party prior to the Stop the Steal movement.  He was the GOP nominee for attorney general, and lost by 9%.  Kristina Karamo was a low-level GOP activist with no relevant experience who was the GOP nominee for Secretary of State.  She lost by 14% and refused to concede the election.

Former president Trump endorsed DePerno for Michigan GOP chair.  At the convention, Greenlee was eliminated on the second ballot with 23%.  Karamo won 58% to DePerno's 42% on the final ballot.  The state party and many local parties have been taken over by what I will call the MAGA faction.  They are characterized by belief in Stop the Steal and other conspiracies, Trump-style rhetoric, and hatred of the old party establishment and donor base.  Notably, the majority of them are not blindly loyal to Trump, as they rejected his endorsee for Karamo, who is even more fanatical than DePerno.

Karamo had run on a platform of scorning the traditional Michigan GOP donor base, including the DeVos family.  Thus fundraising was going to be a major concern.  During her chair campaign, Karamo offered a plan to change the party's fundraising base.

As a candidate for party chair, Karamo vowed to “expand the donor pool by creating a decentralized fundraising system that obtains funding from approximately 500,000 likely-Republican business owners, rather than a handful of millionaire/billionaire class political operatives,” according to a Dec. 18 “vision” document she released.
However, this plan appears to be deeply flawed at the outset.  A quick search reveals the following.
Of those 765,487 small businesses in Michigan, 209,751 have employees. The remaining 555,736 are Michigan small businesses that have no employees.
Businesses without employees are either self-employed people or businesses that only exist on paper.  Thus the number of businesses that Karamo is counting on simply don't exist.  Further, some businesses are owned by democrats or independents who would not donate to Republicans.  Many others are owned by the sort of county club types that Karamo and her supporters hate.  Thus her plan simply could not work, even aside from the difficulty of getting like-minded people to donate.

Not surprisingly, the Michigan GOP has been essentially broke since Karamo took charge.  After the chair of the budget committee expressed concern about the party's financial state, Karamo removed him and faced criticism from her own co-chair.  Later, it came out that the party has only $93,000 in the bank.  Karamo's fundraising efforts have been a tremendous failure.  It is likely that a significant proportion of what has been raised is going to Karamo's salary.

Not only has Karamo not raised money to help elect Republicans, she has also attacked those who have.  The last bastion of sanity in the Michigan GOP are the Republican caucuses in the state house and senate.  In June, the state house GOP announced that former Governor Rick Snyder would be aiding their fundraising efforts.  The was a major boost for the house GOP, as Snyder is a wealthy businessman and has ties to many others like him who can donate big bucks.

Karamo responded to this announcement by attacking Snyder.  To be sure, there are plenty of legitimate criticisms of Snyder's performance as governor, many of which appeared on this blog.  But Snyder is not seeking office himself.  He is raising money for other Republicans, virtually all of whom are more conservative than him.  Any rational conservative should consider that a good thing.

Karamo's attack on Snyder is indicative of the other major feature of her administration: infighting.  Any successful political party is a coalition of people who disagree on some issues.  When there are disputes, they should be dealt with internally, not in the media.

But over the past year, there has been an increase in public infighting, not limited to the budgetary dispute and attacks on Rick Snyder.  In June, Matt DePerno subpoenaed Karamo as part of lawsuit disputing control of the Kalamazoo GOP.  Also in June, there was a fight between GOP officials from Kalamazoo and Macomb Counties.  In July, one activist assaulted a GOP official at the MIGOP state committee meeting.  Charges have been issued related to the two incidents.  Obviously, none of this makes the Michigan GOP look good.

There is also a rise in "censure" and "no confidence" resolutions.  These resolutions have no practical effect, except to "diss" the target of the resolution.  It appears that many of the activists currently involved in the Michigan GOP are engaged in a right-wing form of virtue-signaling.  They seem to be motivated more by affirming a sense of their own moral superiority by attacking less pure Republicans than actually doing the hard work needed to win elections.

Political parties do need some common values, and it is reasonable to exclude those who are opposed to those basic values.  But purity tests and endless infighting between people who agree on most issues is obviously counterproductive.  Winning doesn't seem to be a priority for the MAGA faction.

Tuesday, August 01, 2023

August 2023 Judiciary News

Nominations, Hearings, Confirmations:

Overall:  Harsh Voruganti of The Vetting Room assesses the the state of judicial vacancies and nominations at the middle of 2023.

7th Circuit:  Joshua Kolar-clerk for Wayne Andersen (ND-IL), Magistrate Judge (ND-IN)
10th Circuit:  Rich Federico-Senior Litigator, Public Defender (D-KS)
D-MN:  Jeffrey Bryan-clerk for Paul Magnuson (D-MN), Minnesota Court of Appeals judge
ND-CA:  Eumi Lee-clerk for Warren Ferguson (9th Circuit), Jerome Turner (WD-TN), Superior Court of California judge

The Federal Judiciary:

Supreme Court:  Carrie Severino summarizes the originalist victories over the past Supreme Court term.

Affirmative Action:  The court's ruling against affirmative action is broadly popular, with one poll showing 59% approve and 27% disapprove.  Also, "significant pluralities of black and Hispanic Americans support the decision".

Affirmative Action:  Ed Whelan argues that the Supreme Court ruling against affirmative action will not be difficult to enforce.

Affirmative Action:  Christopher Mills shows that Justice Jackson's opinion is infused with the discredited ideology of critical race theory.

Thomas:  Critics often stigmatize Justice Thomas by accusing him of benefitting from affirmative action, thereby proving his point about the harm it causes to qualified minority students.

Jackson:  Josh Blackman argues that Justice Jackson did not really recuse herself from the Harvard affirmative action case, though he says that is not a problem.

303 Creative:  Various leftists have claimed that the Supreme Court should not have taken the 303 Creative case on freedom of expression.  The argument in part depends on a sham request to the website that was never critical to the case.  However, the case was heard by the district and appeals courts, and the other side never argued against standing.

Thomas:  The Guardian tried to insinuate a scandal in the fact that Justice Thomas received payments from his former clerks.  However, the payments were obviously reimbursements for a Christmas party.

Alito:  Justice Alito criticized members of Congress (including Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)) who believe they can regulate the Supreme Court.  He observes that it was created by the Constitution, not by congress.

Vacancy Declarations:  There are now 91 current and future judicial vacancies.  New vacancies over the past month are listed below.
WD-VA: Michael Urbanski (Obama) 7/4/24 (senior)

State Supreme Courts:

Overall:  The "Center for Public Integrity" is very upset that Republicans have filled more state supreme court seats.  Several red states have disempowered nominating commissions run by leftist bar associations.

Arkansas:  Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R) appointed Cody Hiland to the Arkansas Supreme Court.  He replaces Robin Wynne, who died on June 21.  Hiland was US Attorney for ED-AR 2017-2020 and was elected Arkansas GOP chairman in 2022.  According to Sanders, the court now has a conservative majority.

Missouri:  Justices George Draper III and Justice Patricia Breckenridge will be age-limited on August 5 and October 14, respectively.  Draper was appointed by Jay Nixon (D) in 2011 and Breckenridge was appointed by Matt Blunt (R) in 2007.  There are 23 lawyers applying to fill Draper's seat.  Governor Mike Parson (R) will appoint one of the finalists selected by the nominating commission.


On Ed Whelan's Substack, "Confirmation Tales", recent posts deal with Bill Clinton's nomination of federal judges.