Saturday, October 31, 2020

November 2020 Judiciary News


Supreme Court:

Barrett:  Justice Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed on October 26 by a 52-48 vote.  All Rs except Susan Collins voted yes; all members of the D caucus voted no.  Barrett was sworn in by Justice Thomas the same evening.

Barrett:  Carrie Severino summarizes Day 1Day 2, and Day 3 of the Judiciary Committee hearings on Judge Barrett.

ABA:  The left-leaning American Bar Association gave Judge Barrett a rating of Well Qualified by a substantial majority, with a minority voting for a rating of qualified.

Barrett:  Both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris declined to criticize Judge Barrett during their debates.

Barrett:  Harsh Voruganti of the Vetting Room has analyzed the split opinions involving Judge Barrett, both when she was in the majority and minority.

Barrett:  Politico writes that Barrett quickly became a consensus candidate due to strong support from Mitch McConnell, Leonard Leo, and Josh Hawley.  Also notable is the Leo helped to keep Neomi Rao off Trump's Supreme Court list.

Barrett:  Leftists have demanded that Justice Barrett recuse herself from a variety of cases, especially potential election litigation.  Carrie Severino and Ed Whelan disagree, pointing out previous cases in which liberal judges did not recuse themselves.

Supreme Court:  Senator Ted Cruz has written a book on the Supreme Court: One Vote Away: How a Single Supreme Court Seat Can Change History.  He revealed that he raised concerns with President Trump about Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.  He instead recommended Senator Mike Lee be appointed.

Supreme Court:  Joshua Wilson asks why there aren’t any evangelicals on the Supreme Court, while there are 6 Catholics.  He mentions that evangelicals are less likely to become lawyers, and less likely to attend top law schools.  One answer the article doesn’t give is that evangelicals are more interested in results than identity politics.

Nominations, Hearings, Confirmations:

Feinstein:  Some leftist groups want Senator Diane Feinstein removed as ranking D on the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Some senators are unhappy with her performance in the ACB hearings, but there doesn't seem to be much support for removing her.

Texas:  Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was accused of corruption by seven aides, including First Assistant AG Jeff Mateer, who resigned in protest.  Mateer is notable due to his nomination to ED-TX in 2017.  He was not confirmed due to some controversial comments he made that came to light.

New Nominations:

Senate Judiciary Committee hearings:


The Federal Judiciary:

Judicial winning:  Carrie Severino of the Judicial Crisis Network is writing a series highlighting Trump's conservative judicial appointees.  The series so far includes Kyle DuncanAmul ThaparKen LeeLisa BranchAmy Coney BarrettGreg KatsasJustin Walker, Kevin Newsom, Dan Bress, Eric Murphy, Daniel Collins, Patrick BumatayPaul Matey, and Jay Richardson.

Misconduct:  Judges accused of misconduct often retire to avoid accountability.  Case in point is Judge Truman A. Morrison III of the DC Superior Court.

1st Circuit:  Judge Juan Torruella died on October 26 at age 87.  He was the first appeals court judge from Puerto Rico.  He was appointed to D-PR by Ford in 1974 and to the 1st Circuit by Reagan in 1984.  He was generally liberal, issuing rulings supporting abortion and gay rights, and obstructing the death penalty.

SD-CA:  Chief Judge Larry Burns will take senior status on January 22, 2021, two days after the winner of the next presidential election is inaugurated.  He was appointed by W in 2003.  In 2012, he wrote a column endorsing an assault weapons ban, so he isn't that conservative.

State Supreme Courts:

Elections:  Check out my preview of state supreme court elections in 2020.

California:  Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Martin Jenkins to the California Supreme Court.  He was appointed to ND-CA by Clinton in 1997, and resigned in 2008.  Governor Schwarzenegger then appointed him to the California Court of Appeals.  He is 66.  The court now has 5 D and 2 R appointees.

Texas:  Governor Greg Abbott appointed Rebeca Huddle to the Texas Supreme Court.  Huddle, 47, is a native of El Paso who was a justice on a Houston-based appeals court.  She replaces Justice Paul Green, who retired in August.

Numbers and Trivia:

Obstruction:  Keith Whittington examines obstruction of circuit court nominees.  Both parties have engaged in this practice and President Obama was not obstructed significantly more than previous presidents.

Supreme Court:  Ilya Shapiro shows that liberal justices of the Supreme Court are more likely to vote as a block than conservative justices.

Roberts Court:  Dan McLaughlin rebuts the claim by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse that the Roberts Court decided 80 cases by a 5-4 margin, and all 80 cases were decided in favor of corporate interests.

Longevity:  Three judges originally appointed by Nixon, Gerald Bard Tjoflat, John Clifford Wallace, and Peter T. Fay, just passed 50 years of service.  They are tied for 26th on the list of longevity of service of federal judges.

Longevity:  ProPublica examines the longevity of current federal judges.  Trump appointees are somewhat younger than those of other presidents.

Courting Change:  Reuters examines the federal appeals courts, including appointing president, circuits, age, race, and sex.

Claims:  President Trump appointed Eleni Roumel as Chief Judge of the Court of Federal Claims on October 19.  Trump appointed her to the court in February 2020.  She was Deputy Counsel to VP Mike Pence 2018-2020.  She replaces Margaret Sweeney, whose term on the court of claims expired on October 24.  Sweeney was appointed to the court by W in 2005 and was named chief by Trump in 2018.


Lincoln:  Kamala Harris misrepresented how President Lincoln handled a Supreme Court vacancy in an election year.  He didn't make a nomination before the election not because "the people should decide" but because the Senate was out of session.  (Also, there was a civil war.)  The seat was filled in the lame duck session after the election.

Bench Memos (National Review)
The Vetting Room
Twitter: FedJudges Senate Cloakroom
Senate Judiciary Committee
ABA Judicial Ratings
Wikipedia: Trump Judges US Appeals Courts
Senior Status Spreadsheet
Future Judicial Vacancies
BostonPatriot diaries: History Trump DC-5 6-11 9th
Ballotpedia--State Supreme Court Vacancies Elections
The Supreme Courts
2020: March April May June July August September October Elections

Saturday, October 24, 2020

2020 State Supreme Court Election Preview

A majority of states have elections for state Supreme Court in November.  Here is a guide to the contested elections.  The elections in Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, and Texas seem to be the most competitive.

Ballotpedia:  2020 State Supreme Court Elections

Alaska:  Liberal Justice Susan Carney, on the court since 2016, faces a retention election.  A conservative group is campaigning for a no vote.

Arizona:  Justices Robert Brutinel, Andrew Gould, and John Lopez face a retention election.

Colorado:  Justices Melissa Hart and Carlos Samour face a retention election.

Florida:  Conservative Justice Carlos Muniz faces a retention vote.  He was appointed to the court by Governor Ron DeSantis in 2019.  There is no organized campaign against him, but several major newspapers have recommended a no vote.

District 3  (North central)  Justice Thomas L. Kilbride (D) is an ally of corrupt Speaker Mike Madigan.  He faces a retention election where he must receive 60% of the vote.  If he doesn't get 60%, the other justices will choose a replacement for the next two years.
District 5 (South) Two judges of the 5th District Appellate Court are facing each other for the seat of retired Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier (R).  The candidates are Judy Cates (D) and David Overstreet (R).

Indiana:  Justice Christopher Goff, appointed in 2017, faces a retention election.

Iowa:  Justices Susan Christensen, Edward Mansfield, Christopher McDonald, Thomas Waterman face a retention election.  All are conservatives appointed by R governors.

Kansas:  Liberal Justice Eric Rosen faces a retention election.

Kentucky:  Samuel Wright III, the incumbent judge in district 7 (east) lost in a nonpartisan primary due to a graft scandal.  The runoff candidates are liberal D state rep Chris Harris and conservative Circuit Court Judge Bob Conley.

District 4 (Northeast)  Justice Marcus Clark (R) retired in June.  Judges Jay McCallum (2nd Circuit Court of Appeal) and Shannon Gremillion (3rd Circuit Court of Appeal) are running.  Both are Rs, but McCallum has support the Louisiana Association of Business & Industry (LABI), while Gremillion has been supported by trial lawyer John Carmouche.
District 7 (New Orleans) Chief Justice Bernette Johnson (D) is retiring.  The candidates to replace her are Judge Piper Griffin and 4th Circuit Court of Appeal judges Sandra Cabrina Jenkins and Terri Love.  All three are black female Ds.

Maryland:  Justices Brynja Booth, Jonathan Biran, and Mary Ellen Barbera face a retention election.

Michigan:  There are two full-term seats up for election on the Michigan Supreme Court. They are those of Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack (D) and conservative Stephen Markman (R), who is age-limited.  McCormack is likely safe, as she has the endorsement of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, which usually endorses Rs.  The other D nominee is Grand Rapids attorney Elizabeth Welch.  Court of Appeals judge Brock Swartzle and assistant St. Clair County prosecutor Mary Kelly are the R nominees.  Swartzle has the stronger resume, but Michigan loves electing Irish female judges, as former justices Marilyn Kelly and Mary Beth Kelly can attest.  The second seat seems to be a tossup.

Minnesota:  Justice Paul Thissen, a former D speaker of the house, faces R Michelle MacDonald.

District 1 (Central) Justice Kenny Griffis, appointed by Governor Phil Bryant in 2019, faces Court of Appeals Judge Latrice Westbrooks, a black woman.  The candidates have been endorsed by R and D parties, respectively.
District 3 (North) Justice Josiah Coleman faces Chancery Judge Percy Lynchard.

Missouri:  Conservative Justice Patricia Breckenridge faces a retention election.

Montana:  Justice Jim Shea is unopposed for reelection.  R-leaning Justice Laurie McKinnon faces trial lawyer Mike Black, who has been endorsed by several D former justices.  McKinnon got 53% to 29% for Black in the primary.

Nebraska:  Justices Lindsey Miller-Lerman and Jeffrey Funke face retention elections.

Nevada:  R-leaning justice Mark Gibbons is retiring.  The candidates to replace him are D state rep Ozzie Fumo and Eighth Judicial District Court judge Douglas Herndon, who is supported by R groups.  Herndon got 45% in the primary to Fumo's 36%.

New Mexico:  D Justice Shannon Bacon, appointed in 2019, faces R deputy district attorney Ned Fuller.
D Justice David Thomson, appointed in 2019, faces R attorney Kerry Morris.

North Carolina:  
Seat 1:  Chief Justice Cheri Beasley (D) is being challenged by Justice Paul Martin Newby (R).
Seat 2:  Court of Appeals judges Lucy N. Inman (D) and Phil Berger Jr. (R) are facing off.
Seat 4:  Justice Mark A. Davis (D) faces former state senator Tamara Barringer (R).

Ohio:  Justice Judi French (R) faces liberal D former SOS Jennifer Brunner.  Justice Sharon Kennedy (R) faces Judge John O’Donnell (D).

Oklahoma:  Justices John Kane, Tom Colbert and Richard Darby face a retention election.

South Dakota:  Justice Steven Jensen, who has been on the court since 2017, faces a retention election.

Texas Supreme Court:  There are four R incumbents up for election. Ds are aggressively challenging the incumbents.
Place 1: Nathan Hecht (R) faces 201st Judicial District Judge Amy Clark Meachum (D).
Place 6: Jane Bland (R) faces attorney Kathy Cheng (D).
Place 7: Jeffrey S. Boyd (R) faces Dallas County District Court Judge Staci Williams (D).
Place 8: Brett Busby (R) faces Texas Third Court of Appeals Judge Gisela Triana (D).

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals: There are three R incumbents up for election.
Place 3: Bert Richardson (R) faces former Dallas County Criminal District Court judge Elizabeth Davis Frizell (D).
Place 4: Kevin Patrick Yeary (R) faces Dallas County Criminal District Court judge Tina Yoo Clinton (D).
Place 9: David Newell (R) faces Texas 292nd District Court judge Brandon Birmingham (D).

Utah:  Justice John A. Pearce, on the court since 2015, faces a retention election.

Washington:  Justices Charles Johnson and Debra Stephens are unopposed for reelection.  Justice Raquel Montoya-Lewis, appointed in January by Governor Jay Inslee, faces Federal Way Municipal Court Judge David Larson.  Justice Helen Whitener, appointed in April, faces former Winlock School District Superintendent Richard Serns.

Wyoming:  Justices Lynne Boomgaarden and Kari Jo Gray face retention elections.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

2020 Michigan State House Races

Last updated October 15, 2020.

Cross-posted at The Western RightRight Michigan, and RRH Elections.

All 110 seats in the Michigan House of Representatives will be up for election in November. Republicans won a 63-47 majorities in 2014 and 2016, and a reduced 58-42 margin in 2018. There are 25 open seats, 12 held by Republicans and 13 held by democrats. There are 22 open due to term-limits, 1 just due to seeking another office, 1 due to death, and 1 pure retirement.

Democrats are hoping to take control of the state house. They may benefit from anti-Trump enthusiasm, particularly in suburban districts in Oakland County.

Republican Michigander has a profile of the Michigan state house focusing more on district demographics.

The following lists district number, current incumbent, geographic description, 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2018 state house results, 2012 Romney %, 2016 Trump % (if known), and political rating.  The complete candidate list and recent fundraising numbers are available here:

2020 Michigan Primary Candidate List
July 2020 Michigan State House Fundraising