Tuesday, June 30, 2020

July 2020 Judiciary News

As the nation descends into anarchy, there is plenty of news in the American judicial system.

Nominations, Hearings, Confirmations:

Trump:  President Trump will update his Supreme Court list by September 1.  John Doe had argued that he would.

Biden:  Will Biden release a Supreme Court list?  Prominent Ds are advising him not to.

DC Circuit:  The Senate confirmed Justin Walker 51-42 to the DC Circuit.  This is Trump's third appointment to "the second most influential appeals court in the nation".  Walker is a protege of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.  Walker's seat on WD-KY will soon be open for another nominee.

5th Circuit:  The Senate confirmed Cory Wilson 52-48 to the last open appeals court seat.  He finally fills a MS seat that has been open since 2017.  The 5th circuit should finally have a solid conservative majority, with 10 conservatives, 2 moderates, and 5 liberals.

New Jersey:  There are still no nominations for district court in New Jersey.  Carl Tobias tries blame President Trump, but given that most blue states have had nominees confirmed, it is clear that D senators are to blame.

Thurmond rule:  Will Senate Rs ignore the 'Thurmond rule'?  This is actually tradition, not a rule, that says the senate won't confirm judges nominated near the end of a president's term.  This 'rule' has often been violated, and is much more likely to be applied when the Senate and Presidency are in opposite hands.

New Nominations:

Senate Judiciary Committee hearings:
July 2 (business):  Some district court nominees may be held over.


The Federal Judiciary:

Supreme Court:  The Supreme Court ruled in Bostock v. Clayton County "by a vote of 6 to 3 that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status constitutes discrimination “because of … sex” in violation of Title VII."  Justices Gorsuch and Roberts joined the court's four liberals.  Ed Whelan discusses the dissents by Justices Alito and Kavanaugh.

Trump judges:  This article debunks the myth that Trump's judicial appointees are less qualified than those of previous presidents.

Whitehouse:  Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has long railed against the Federalist Society, claiming it is just a conduit for wealthy special interests to stack the courts.  However, there are many well-funded leftist groups that try to influence the courts.  Also, Whitehouse got a major D donor, John McConnell, a federal judgeship (D-RI).

DC-CA:  Chief Judge Cormac Carney has stepped down after less than a month as chief judge.  He described a court official, a black woman, as "street smart".  Some, including him, considered the comment racially insensitive.  While he was appointed to federal court by W, he was appointed to a state court by Governor Gray Davis (D).  He also declared California's death penalty unconstitutional in 2014, a decision unanimously overturned by the 9th Circuit (!), so he doesn't appear to be any sort of conservative.

MD-FL:  Judge Virginia M. Hernandez Covington (appointed by W) will take senior status on July 12, her 65th birthday.

State Supreme Courts:

Georgia:  In the June 9 primaries, Justice Sarah Warren (R) was easily renominated, with 79%.  Charlie Bethel was held to 53% by former state Rep. Beth Beskin (R) (14-18). 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.

Kansas:  Kansas Supreme Court Justice Carol Beier will retire.  D Governor Laura Kelly will get her third appointment to the famously liberal court, as liberal judges see a chance to get favorable replacements.

Michigan:  Republicans currently hold a 4-3 majority on the court, but moderate Republicans Elizabeth Clement and David Viviano hold the balance of power.  There are two full-term seats up for election on the Michigan Supreme Court. They are those of D Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack and conservative Stephen Markman, who is age-limited.  McCormack is likely safe, while the open seat will be hotly contested.  Court of Appeals judge Brock Swartzle and assistant St. Clair County prosecutor Mary Kelly are running for R nominations.  Candidates who are women, Irish, and especially Irish women have an advantage in Michigan judicial races, as former justices Marilyn Kelly and Mary Beth Kelly can attest.

New Jersey:  Governor Phil Murphy has appointed Fabiana Pierre-Louis to the New Jersey Supreme Court.  She is the first African American woman on the New Jersey Supreme Court.  The court will have 3 appointees from D governors and 4 appointees from R governors, though it is unclear whether any of the R appointees are conservatives.

West Virginia:  The (officially nonpartisan) election of three seats was held on June 9.  The court will maintain a 3R-2D balance.
Place 1: Incumbent Tim Armstead (R), a former state House Speaker, was reelected.
Place 2: Trial lawyer Bill Wooton (D) narrowly beat a more conservative candidate.
Place 3:  Appointed incumbent John Hutchison, a supposedly conservative D appointed by Governor Justice, was reelected.

Numbers and Trivia:

President Trump has had 200 judicial confirmations for Article III courts.  That includes four judges (Quattlebaum, Phipps, Brasher, and Walker) confirmed to both district and appeals courts.  Trump has 53 appeals court appointments, compared to 55 for Obama's two terms.  Trump has 143 district court appointments.  Obama had 141 district judges in his first term, and 268 total.

7th Circuit:  As of July 4, Diane Sykes will be the Chief Judge of the 7th Circuit, taking over from Diane Wood.  Sykes was appointed by W, and is on President Trump's Supreme Court list.  The Presidents who appointed chief judges of the 13 appeals courts are Clinton (2, 4, 6, 9), W (1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11, Fed), and Obama (DC).

Black Judges:  Wikipedia has a list of black federal judges.  (The list is not complete, as it omits Ada Brown of ND-TX.)  Notably, Trump has nominated 10 black district judges, similar to the 11 appointed by George W Bush in his first term.  However, Bush appointed six black judges to the appeals courts, while Trump has not yet nominated any.  Bush's appointees included two conservatives (Smith, Brown), two moderates (Duncan, Holmes), and two liberals (Gregory, Parker).


Roberts:  In light of Justice Roberts' recent string of disappointing rulings, it is enlightening to return to Ann Coulter's columns (one, two, three) criticizing Roberts' appointment in 2005.

Bench Memos (National Review)
The Vetting Room
FedJudges (Twitter)
Senate Cloakroom (Twitter)
Senate Judiciary Committee
ABA Judicial Ratings
Wikipedia-Trump Judges
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
2020: March April May June

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Michigan Right to Life Endorsements

Michigan Right to Life has just issued its endorsements for the 2020 primary.  RTL swings a significant number of Michigan primary voters, so its endorsements will decide some races.

RTL will recommend all candidates if they are all pro-life, but if there is a serious non-pro-life candidate, they will pick one pro-life candidate to endorse.  Their noteworthy endorsements are listed below.

President:  Trump
US Senate: John James

All Republican incumbents are endorsed except for Fred Upton.  Notably, Upton was endorsed in 2012, 2014, and 2016 despite a past pro-abortion record.
3. Afendoulis, Meijer, and Norton all endorsed
5. Tim Kelly solely endorsed
6. No endorsement
8. All four Republican candidates are endorsed.
9. Both Republican candidates are endorsed.
10. All three Republican candidates are endorsed.

State House:  All Republican incumbents are endorsed except two.
13. (D) Bill Colovos
19. Crider and Ptashnik both endorsed.
20. John Lacny
21. Laurel Ness
25. All three Republican candidates are endorsed.
38. Chase Turner solely endorsed.  Who is not pro-life here?
39. No endorsement for incumbent Ryan Berman
41. Evan Agnello
45. No endorsement for Mark Tisdel
47. Bezotte and Reckling both endorsed.
48. David Martin solely endorsed.
56. TC Clements
58. Andrew Fink solely endorsed.  Who is not pro-life here?
59. Allen Balong solely endorsed.  Some other candidates, including State Carra, are pro-life.
61. Bronwyn Haltom
62. Dave Morgan
70. Martin Ross solely endorsed.  Who is not pro-life here?
71. Barnes and Johnsen both endorsed.
73. All three Republican candidates are endorsed.
78. No endorsement for incumbent Brad Paquette
83. Gregory Alexander solely endorsed.  Who is not pro-life here?
95. (D) James Graham
96. Bauer and Beson both endorsed.
104. Cerone and Roth both endorsed.
105. Cutler and Borton both endorsed.
107. John Damoose solely endorsed.  Who is not pro-life here?