Nominations, Hearings, Confirmations:
DC Circuit: The leftist group Demand Justice has tried to claim a conspiracy between Senator McConnell and retiring judge Thomas Griffith. McConnell has reportedly been encouraging conservative judges who are eligible to take senior status. District judge Justin Walker, a McConnell protege, has been nominated to Griffith’s seat. But there is no evidence that Griffith got anything. Further, Griffith has been planning to retire for a year due to his need to care for his sick wife.
DC Circuit: Demand Justice filed a complaint with new DC Circuit chief judge Sri Srinivasan, who accepted it despite Demand Justice’s failure to set forth its complaint under penalty of perjury. He asked Chief Justice John Roberts to transfer the complaint to another circuit for evaluation. Roberts denied the request, and it was then dismissed by judge Henderson. Srinivasan's behavior may be influenced by a desire for a Supreme Court appointment.
DC Circuit: Justin Walker got a rare WQm/Qmin/NQmin rating from the ABA. The ABA gave Walker an NQ for lack of trial experience when rating him for the district court. Now that he is a district court judge that is less of an issue. Also, his background as a law professor is a better fit for the appeals court. This deprives the left of a talking point opposing his nomination.
5th Circuit: The Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Cory Wilson's nomination for the 5th Circuit (MS). He received a WQ from the ABA, an upgrade from the Q he received for his district court nomination. D Senators attacked him for his opposition to Obamacare and support for voter ID laws. He held up well and should pass the committee by a party line vote.
Guardian: The Guardian, a far-left British paper, is running a series of articles attacking Trump's judicial nominees.
D-NM: Fred Federici--Assistant US Attorney
D-NM: Brenda Saiz--private practice
Senate Judiciary Committee hearings:
June 4 (business): Justin Walker is likely to be voted out of committee.
The Senate is expected to confirm John Leonard Badalamenti (MD-FL) and Drew Tipton (SD-TX) the week of June 1.
The Federal Judiciary:
Judicial retirements: The GOP may, or may not, be pressuring conservative judges eligible for senior status to retire. Aside from media reports making this claim, the only evidence seems to be a spreadsheet created by the Article III project, a group fighting for confirmation of conservative judges. Most judges did not comment; one who did said
"I hope to die on the bench," said one federal judge on the list who requested anonymity to say there'd been no outreach from McConnell or anyone else about their job plans.Federalist Society: The Judicial Conference of the United States Committee on Codes of Conduct wants to bar judges from being members of the Federalist Society, while claiming that the ABA is fine. In March, 210 federal judges wrote a letter protesting the Draft Advisory Opinion. They point out that the ABA engages in advocacy and lobbying, while the Federalist Society does not. They also ask whether members of the ABA recused themselves when drafting the opinion.
Federalist Society: The primary authors of the letter were Greg Katsas (DC Circuit), Andy Oldham (5th), William Pryor (11th), and Amul Thapar (6th). The 210 judges are primarily Republican appointees, but include some appointees of democrats as well. The appeals court judges in this category are José Cabranes (2nd), Julie Carnes (11th), Frank Hull (11th), Cheryl Krause (3rd), Stanley Marcus (11th), and Richard Tallman (9th). All but Krause are generally considered right of center. The only Trump appeals court judges to not sign the letter are Ralph Erickson (8th), Jonathan Kobes (8th), Eric Miller (9th), Marvin Quattlebaum (4th), and Amy St. Eve (7th).
Federalist Society: The letter was leaked shortly before Justin Walker's committee hearing, and a New York Times article framed the issue around his nomination in a very biased way. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, who is known for promoting conspiracy theories about the Federalist Society, asked Walker about the letter at his nomination hearing.
9th Circuit: Environmentalists are upset with the Trump appointees to the 9th circuit. (For bonus points, see how many errors you can spot in this article.)
State Supreme Courts:
Alaska: The Alaska Judicial Council selected four finalists for the Supreme Court vacancy caused by the retirement of Craig Stowers, effective June 1. They are "Superior Court Judges Dani Crosby, Jennifer Stuart Henderson and Yvonne Lamoureux, as well as chief assistant attorney general Dario Borghesan". Borghesan seems to be the only candidate with conservative bonafides, as he worked for AGs Dan Sullivan and Kevin Clarkson. The other three were all appointed to the Superior Court by left-leaning independent Gov. Bill Walker. Alaska, along with Kansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri, is a red state with a liberal Supreme Court due to its "merit-based" judicial selection.
Florida: Governor Ron DeSantis finally made two appointments to the Florida Supreme Court, after passing his second, self-imposed deadline of May 1. One is John Couriel, a Miami lawyer went to Harvard, clerked for a district judge, and served as an AUSA. He is Hispanic (Cuban). He was a finalist last time, but was not chosen.
The other appointee is Renatha Francis, who went to Florida Coastal University Law School, and served as a trial judge in Miami and Palm Beach. She is a black woman (born in Jamaica). Many black leaders had demanded a black appointee. She has to wait until September to meet the eligibility requirements. The appointments were cheered by conservatives and jeered by liberals.
Georgia: The Georgia Supreme Court has ruled 6-2 that Governor Brian Kemp can appoint the successor to Justice Keith Blackwell, who will leave the Georgia Supreme Court in November. He was scheduled to face a retention election in November, but state law allows the Governor to appoint a replacement who will not face retention until later. Former U.S. Rep. John Barrow (D) and former state Rep. Beth Beskin (R) wanted to run for the seat. They filed suit claiming that cancelling the election is illegal since Blackwell is still on the court. After a local court denied the request, they appealed to the Supreme Court. They demanded that all eight Supreme Court justices recuse themselves; five did. Barrow and Raskin were previously candidates for the seat of retiring judge Robert Benham, but that election was also cancelled when Benham resigned early. Barrow is now pursuing a similar case in federal court.
Georgia: Former state Rep. Beth Beskin (R) (14-18) is challenging incumbent Georgia Supreme Court Justice Charlie Bethel in the June 9 primary. Beskin has twice tried to run for open seats on the court, only to have the elections cancelled when the incumbents resigned early and they were filled by appointment. Bethel was a state senator (10-16) before appointment to the Georgia Court of Appeals.
Minnesota: Governor Tim Walz appointed Nobles County District Judge Gordon Moore to the Minnesota Supreme Court. He replaces retiring Justice David Lillehaug. Moore previously worked for Attorney General Skip Humphrey (D) and was appointed to his current position by Mark Dayton (D). Notably, Moore lives in rural southwest Minnesota. The Minnesota Supreme Court has five D appointees and two R appointees.
West Virginia: The (officially nonpartisan) election of three seats will occur on June 9. Incumbent Tim Armstead (R), a former state House Speaker, faces two challengers. Incumbent Margaret Workman (D), who managed to get the state judges to issue an injunction against her impeachment trial (!) is retiring. There are four candidates for her seat. Appointed incumbent John Hutchison (D) is seeking election against two challengers. Good luck figuring out who is conservative from media profiles of the races (1 2 3).
Lockdowns: Many states have been grappling with the issue of lockdowns imposed by executive order. Some courts have upheld the orders, while others have been struck down. In one example of the latter, the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Governor Tony Evers' stay-at-home order. The ruling was 4-3, with conservative Brian Hagedorn joining the two liberals in the minority.
Numbers and Trivia:
Trump: The Brookings Institution compares Trump to previous presidents with regard to the number and percentage of judicial appointments.
D-ND: The last time a North Dakota district judge was appointed by a D president was in 1941.
ED-NY: Diane Gujarati was nominated to the Eastern District of New York on May 15, 2018 (over two years ago) and has not yet received a vote. She was previously nominated on September 13, 2016 by President Obama to the same position.
As of June 3, William Pryor will be the Chief Judge of the 11th Circuit, taking over from Edward Carnes. The Presidents who appointed chief judges of the 13 appeals courts are Clinton (2, 4, 6, 7, 9), W (1, 3, 5, 8, 10, 11, Fed), and Obama (DC).
SD-AL: Terry Moorer – nonpartisan
ED-VA: Rossie Alston – conservative
SD-FL: Rodney Smith – nonpartisan
WD-TX: Jason Pulliam – conservative
ED-PA: John Younge – liberal
ND-TX: Ada Brown – nonpartisan
ED-MI: Stephanie Davis – liberal
ED-NC: Richard Myers – conservative
WD-OK: Bernard Jones – nonpartisan
There are two more who have been nominated.
ND-IL: Franklin Valderrama – liberal
ED-VA: Roderick C. Young – nonpartisan
Bench Memos (National Review)
The Vetting Room
Senate Cloakroom (Twitter)
Senate Judiciary Committee
ABA Judicial Ratings
Wikipedia-US Appeals Courts
Senior Status Spreadsheet
Future Judicial Vacancies
BostonPatriot diaries: History Trump DC-5 6-11 9th
Ballotpedia-State Supreme Court Vacancies
The Supreme Courts
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