Saturday, July 31, 2021

August 2021 Judiciary News

Congratulations to President Trump on his reinstatement as President sometime this month!

Nominations, Hearings, Confirmations:

Breyer:  Justice Breyer stated in an interview that he has not decided when to retire.

Breyer:  Schadenfreude alert!  Leftists are furious at Justice Breyer's refusal to retire.

Biden nominees:  Ian Millhiser provides a leftist perspective on how Biden has changed judicial nominations compared to Obama.

Judiciary Committee:  Shockingly, D senators who complained about how Rs were running the judicial confirmation process are now doing the same things they complained about.

California:  More than six months into Biden's presidency, there are still no nominees for the many vacancies on California's district courts.  Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla have sent names to the White House, and it isn't clear what the hold up could be.

SD-FL:  The Rubio Judicial Nominating Commission recommended David Leibowitz and Detra Shaw-Wilder for district judge.  Shaw-Wilder was also recommended by the congressional (Wasserman-Schultz/Hastings) JNC. Leibovitz is close to Rubio and has a history of supporting D campaigns.

ED-WI:  A bipartisan commission has recommended four candidates for a federal judgeship in ED-WI.  The judge sits in Green Bay.  Three of the four candidates are from Green Bay.  The fourth, Milwaukee judge William Pocan, brother of far-left Rep. Mark Pocan, is a particularly bad choice.


The Federal Judiciary:

Supreme Court:  A 538 analysis shows the Supreme Court has moved right, and by some measures, Brett Kavanaugh is now the median justice.

Supreme Court:  The court accepted Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case challenging a Mississippi 15-week abortion ban.  Mississippi is asking for Roe v. Wade to be overturned.  Upholding the law should imply overturning Roe, but the court may find an illogical way to avoid doing both.

Garland:  Jessica Garland, daughter of AG Merrick Garland, has been hired as a clerk for Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan.  After criticism of the hire, it was announced that she will delay her clerkship until her father is not AG.  Otherwise, either she or Justice Kagan might have to recuse from cases involving the Justice Department.

5th Circuit:  A panel found that mandatory dues to the state bar association in Texas should not be required due to its lobbying for liberal legislation not germane to its mission.  The panel did find that many activities related to pro bono work and diversity are allowed, so the bar may be able to reinstate mandatory dues if it avoids ideological lobbying.

9th Circuit:  The Supreme Court reversed the 9th Circuit in 15 of 16 appeals it heard from that circuit last term.  Ed Whelan wonders if the circuit is changing, as it recently voted to hear an appeal of a liberal panel ruling en banc.

D-SD:  Senior Judge Charles Kornmann continues to push prosecution of several US marshals who removed several defendants from his courtroom in a dispute over their refusal to state whether they received the COVID vaccine.  The DOJ declined to prosecute the marshals, so Judge Kornmann appointed a private attorney to prosecute them.  All the other judges in D-SD recused themselves from the case.  At their request, the 8th Circuit appointed Judge Brian Buescher of Nebraska to oversee the trial.

Vacancy Declarations:  There are now 115 current and future judicial vacancies.  New vacancies over the past month are listed below.
SD-CA: William Hayes (W) 8/1 (senior)
1st Circuit: O. Rogeriee Thompson (Obama) 12/31 (senior)
ND-IL: Matthew Kennelly (Clinton) 10/7 (senior)
ED-MI: David Lawson (Clinton) 8/6 (senior)
Federal Circuit: Kathleen O’Malley (Obama) 3/11/22 (senior)

State Supreme Courts:

Alaska:   Governor Mike Dunleavy appointed Superior Court Judge Jennifer Stuart Henderson to the Alaska Supreme Court.  She was appointed to the Superior Court by left-leaning independent Gov. Bill Walker.  The appointment comes a week after he asked the Alaska Judicial Council for a new slate of candidates.  They had not responded to his request.

Arizona:  Governor Doug Ducey appointed Kathryn Hackett King to the open seat on the Arizona Supreme Court vacated by Andrew Gould.  She is a member of the Arizona Board of Regents and a former aide to Ducey.

Georgia:  Governor Brian Kemp appointed Verda Colvin to succeed Chief Justice Harold Melton.  She is a black woman who serves on the Georgia Court of Appeals since she was appointed by Kemp in March 2020.  She will be the only black judge on the court.  Another candidate for the Supreme Court seat, Solicitor General Andrew Pinson, was appointed to fill Colvin’s seat on the Appeals Court.  Pinson clerked for Justice Thomas on the US Supreme Court.

Michigan:  Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein returned to Michigan after spending six months in the United Arab Emirates and Israel.  Shortly after voting to uphold Governor Whitmer's illegal emergency powers, he violated pandemic guidelines to travel out of America.

Montana:  This article summarizes the recent conflict between the Montana legislature and judiciary from a leftist perspective.

New Mexico:  Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham appointed New Mexico Court of Appeals Judge Briana Zamora to the New Mexico Supreme Court.  She replaces Justice Barbara Vigil. This is Grisham's fourth appointment to the five-member court.

Oklahoma:  Governor Kevin Stitt appointed Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals Judges Dana Kuehn to the Oklahoma Supreme Court seat vacated by Tom Colbert.  She was appointed to her current position in 2017.  This is Stitt's third appointment to the court.  The court now has 5 R and 4 D appointees, but one of the R appointees is not a conservative.

Numbers and Trivia:

Chief Justices:  Of all 17 chief justices of the Supreme Court, only 4 were elevated from associate justice (Rehnquist, Stone, E. White, Rutledge).  Note that Hughes had previously been a justice, but resigned for another position.  Only 6 had any experience as a judge before joining the Supreme Court, (E. White, Taft, Vinson, Burger, Rehnquist, Roberts).

Retirements (Reagan):  When did appeals court judges appointed by Ronald Reagan retire?  By retire, I mean leave active status, that is resign, retire, take senior status, or die in office.  Reagan appointed 83 appeals court judges.  Here are the numbers.

4 (5%) resigned early (Bork, Scalia, Starr, Sneeden)
44 (53%) retired when eligible (within 1st year)
23 (28%) retired later
(7%) died in office
6 (7%) still active (Newman, Wilkinson, Easterbrook, E. Jones, Kanne, J. Smith)

38 (46%) retired under R president
39 (47%) retired under D president
6 (7%) still active
12 (14%) retired in first year of R president

The (shockingly large) percentage of Reagan appointees who retired immediately is much larger than that for Carter appointees (29%).  Many of them turned their seats over to Clinton appointees.


Nominations:  Despite decades of dominating the courts, progressives have convinced themselves that they "lost the courts" because they are just too darn nice!  The Atlantic article somehow fails to mention their slandering of Clarence Thomas, filibustering of nominees under W, and eliminating the filibuster under Obama.  It also does not consider the possibility that progressives "lost the courts" because voters didn't like judges subverting democracy to impose leftist policy preferences.  Ed Whelan also debunks the article.

Blue Slips:  This history of the blue slip isn't new, but it has much good historical information.


Sunday, July 25, 2021

Pam Hornberger for State Senate

On Tuesday, August 3, there are special election primaries for two vacant seats in the Michigan state senate.  One of them is district 8 is northern Macomb county, which is open due to Pete Lucido's election as Macomb County Prosecutor.

There are two main R candidates for the seat, state reps Pam Hornberger and Doug Wozniak.  Hornberger is the clear choice for conservatives.

In 2020, Hornberger has the 6th highest conservative rating by MIRS, while Wozniak was tied for 30th.  In 2019, Hornberger has the 2nd highest conservative rating by MIRS, while Wozniak was tied for 34th.

Wozniak voted for business subsidies 100% of the time, while Hornberger voted for less than 1% of business subsidies. Wozniak voted to allow higher taxes on motels, while Hornberger voted against.

Hornberger is pro-life, pro-gun, and has been a leader among conservatives in the legislature.  She deserves the support of conservatives.

2021 Michigan State Senate Special Election Fundraising

On Tuesday, August 8, there will be a special election primary to fill two vacant Michigan state senate seats.  Here are the fundraising numbers for the leading R candidates.  These numbers come from the SOS campaign finance reports.

8. Hornberger 78K, Wozniak 92K (44K self), Mekoski 38K
28. Huizenga 171K, Brann 94K (80K self), Green 48K (41K self)

The DeVos family is supporting Hornberger and Huizenga.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Endless Election Conspiracy Theories

One of the first things you learn when studying politics is that there are lots of people who disagree with you.  Sadly, it seems increasingly common for the base of whichever party loses the presidency to latch onto some conspiracy theory to deny that they actually lost.

This blog has extensively debunked the misinformation about the 2020 election promoted by President Trump and some of his supporters.  But this phenomenon didn't start there.

In 2016, democrats spread rumors that President Trump was colluding with Vladimir Putin to steal the election.  This was started at the top with the phony Steele Dossier that led to the Mueller investigation.  However, it took on a life of its own, with a significant number of dems believing that the Russians actually changed the vote totals, which was never even alledged.

During the Obama years, there was the birther conspiracy theory.  The claim that Obama's pregnant mother took a flight to a third world country to give birth in the country of the guy who dumped her never made much sense.  But some people who couldn't handle the fact that Obama was fairly popular latched onto this claim as a technicality to deny that he had actually won.

The left had its own theories to deny the legitimacy of George W. Bush's victories.  In 2000, the (admittedly close) election in Florida led the left to claim he was "selected not elected".  Contrary to the left's mythology, there was a full (machine) recount, Al Gore was the first to file a lawsuit, and he never asked for a statewide recount.  The Supreme Court finally put a stop to the absurdity (by a 7-2, not 5-4 vote) of different counties using different standards to recount the ballots.

In 2004, some on the left focused on the Diebold voting machines used by the state of Ohio.  They claimed that the machines had been rigged to deliver the election to Bush.  Republicans apparently forgot to rig the 2006 and 2008 elections, which they lost badly.

I don't recall any conspiracy theories about Bill Clinton's election.  Discontent with the election on the right focused on the candidacy of Ross Perot costing George HW Bush the election.  While this may be true, the fact that Bush lost so many votes still signified serious discontent with his policies.

The left's rage over the 1988 election focused on the Willie Horton ad supposedly stoking racial divisions.  Bush's ad never mentioned Horton's race or showed his picture.  In any case, Michael Dukakis' record on crime was a perfectly legitimate issue to raise.

In 1980, some on the left promoted the "October Surpise" theory that Ronald Reagan had made a deal with Iran to prevent the release of hostages until after the election.  There was never any evidence of this.

Conspiracy theories have moved beyond presidential elections.  In 2018, losing dem candidate for governor of Georgia Stacy Abrams refused to concede the election.  She promoted false claims that voters were suppressed from voting.  She was widely embraced by the left, which largely endorsed her claims.

Dems have recently taken to promoting the idea that any effort to secure elections or limit the timeframe for voting is "voter suppression" that is akin to Jim Crow laws.  They never point to even a single person who was legally eligible to vote but unable to do so.

They claim that voter ID is racist, despite massive popular support for it, including a majority of dems.  Ironically, they claim that blacks are less capable of performing the basic task of obtaining an ID, a far more racist claim.

Dems are promoting HR1, the "For the People Act". Any bill with a title that saccarine is likely a scam.  In addition to banning voter ID, the bill also removes all bans on ballot harvesting, a practice which actually was used to commit fraud in the 2018 North Carolina 9th congressional district election.  The bill contains many other terrible provisions designed to benefit dems.

If candidates refusing to concede elections they lost becomes the norm, America will be worse off.

Thursday, July 01, 2021

July 2021 Judiciary News

Breyer untired!

Nominations, Hearings, Confirmations:

Biden nominees:  President Biden got his first judicial confirmations in June.  The first of five district judges confirmed was Julien Neals (D-NJ).  The first of two appeals court judges confirmed was Ketanji Brown Jackson (DC Circuit), a possible Supreme Court candidate.

Public Defenders:  With President Biden nominating more public defenders to the judiciary, GOP senators are raising concerns over whether they have the necessary experience or are too sypathetic to criminals.

4th Circuit:  Toby Heytens--clerk for Ginsberg, Virginia Solicitor General 
9th Circuit:  Jennifer Sung--clerk for Betty Binns Fletcher (9th Circuit), labor lawyer
ED-MI:  Shalina Kumar--Oakland County Sixth Circuit Court
WD-MI:   Jane Beckering--MI court of appeals judge
ED-VA:  Patricia Tolliver Giles--clerk for Gerald Lee (ED-VA), AUSA
ED-VA:  Michael Nachmanoff--clerk for Leonie Brinkema (ED-VA), Magistrate Judge
Claims:  Armando Bonilla--clerk for Garrett Brown (D-NJ), former prosecutor
Claims:  Carolyn Lerner--clerk for Julian Abele Cook (ED-MI), Chief Mediator, DC Circuit

The Federal Judiciary:

Supreme Court:  The court issued rulings in several high-profile cases.  It upheld Obamacare on a 7-2 vote denying the plaintiffs had standing.  It upheld the religious liberty of a Catholic adoption agency in Philadelphia, though on very narrow grounds.  It protected the right of farms to not be invaded by union activists.  It upheld Arizona's election laws on a 6-3 vote.

Supreme Court:  The court has reversed the 9th Circuit many times this term, sometimes unanimously.

Supreme Court:  The court has employees who clip articles and tweets about the court.  Ed Whelan wonders why.

Trump judges:  Trump-appointed judges have blocked many of President Biden's attempts to impose his policies by executive order.

Court reform:  President Biden’s Supreme Court commission held its first meeting, which was either mostly about court packing, or mostly avoided the issue, depending which news article you believe.  Many ideas from limiting judicial review to term limits were discussed.  The commission is only tasked with studying issues, not making recommendations.

Term limits:  Ramesh Ponnuru argues that Supreme Court term limits would not help progressives.

2nd Circuit:  Senior Judge Robert Katzmann died of cancer on June 9 at age 68.  He was appointed by Clinton in 1999 and took senior status in 2021.  He was a feeder judge who sent many clerks to the Supreme Court.

SD-CA:  Judge Roger Benitez has attracted the scorn of anti-gun activists and CNN (but I repeat myself) for his rulings in favor of gun rights.  He has seemingly managed to hear every challenge to California's strict gun laws.  Benitez is a senior judge and Cuban refugee appointed by W in 2004.

D-SD:  Senior Judge Charles Kornmann threw a fit when several US marshalls refused to disclose whether they had received the COVID vaccine.  He claimed they kidnapped three defendants after he ordered the marshalls to leave the courtroom.  He is attempting to charge them with obstruction of justice, saying of the marshalls that "As it stands now, they could well be the most dangerous people in the courtroom".

Vacancy Declarations:  There are now 109 current and future judicial vacancies.  All appeals courts except the 3rd and 8th have vacancies.  New vacancies over the past month are listed below.
D-WY: Nancy Freudenthal (Obama) 6/1/22 (senior)
ED-VA: John Gibney (Obama) 11/1 (senior)
D-PR: Francisco Besosa (W) 1/1/22 (senior)
ND-OK: John Dowdell (Obama) 6/21 (senior/certified disability)

State Supreme Courts:

Districts:  Several states are considering changing state supreme court districts.  Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker signed a map that would make two seats friendlier to Ds.  Montana put an amendment on the ballot to create judicial districts.  In Louisiana, the bill to add two seats to the Louisiana Supreme Court and redraw the districts failed to get the necessary 2/3 vote in the state house.

Georgia:  The Judicial Nominating Commission sent Governor Kemp a list of six nominees to succeed Chief Justice Harold Melton.  At least three of the six are black.  Melton is currently the only black judge on the court.

Idaho:  Governor Brad Little appointed Idaho deputy attorney general Colleen Zahn to the vacant seat on the Idaho Supreme Court.

Montana:  The Montana Supreme Court upheld a law eliminating the judicial nominating commission by a 6-1 vote.  The battle over the law led to hard feelings by justices upset that the legislature was insufficiently deferential to their authority.

New Mexico:  New Mexico Supreme Court justice Barbara Vigil will retire June 30.  Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham will get her fourth appointment to the five-member court.

New York:  The state senate confirmed Governor Andrew Cuomo's nominations to fill vacancies on the New York Court of Appeals.  They are Nassau County DA Madeline Singas (D) and Justice Anthony Cannataro, who manages the NYC Civil Courts.

Ohio:  Ohio Supreme Court Justice Jennifer Brunner (D) is running for chief justice.  She was elected in 2020, and was previously Ohio SOS.  R Justices Pat DeWine and Sharon Kennedy are also considering running.

Ohio:  The Ohio house passsed a bill to list the party of Ohio Supreme Court and appeals courts candidates on the general election ballot.  Governor DeWine plans to sign the bill.

Oklahoma:  The Oklahoma Judicial Nominating Commission announced three finalists for the Oklahoma Supreme Court seat vacated by Tom Colbert.  They are Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals Judges Dana Kuehn and Stacie Hixon and Tulsa County District Judge Rebecca Nightingale.  Governor Kevin Stitt will get his third appointment to the court.

Numbers and Trivia:

Minorities:  Ed Whelan points out that minorities are overrepresented in the judiciary relative to the number who have law degrees, and in some cases even relative to the overall population.

Feeder judges:  A feeder judge is a judge whose clerks frequently go on to clerk for the Supreme Court.  The most common D feeder judges over the past decade (Garland and Katzmann) have recently left the judiciary.  Two others (Tatel and Fletcher) have are taking senior status this year.  It isn't clear who will succeed them, though Sri Srinivasan (DC Circuit) is likely to be one.

Retirements (Carter):  When did appeals court judges appointed by Jimmy Carter retire?  By retire, I mean leave active status, that is resign, retire, take senior status, or die in office.  All 56 Carter appointees have left active status.  Here are the numbers.

4 (7%) resigned early
16 (29%) retired when eligible (within 1st year)
31 (55%) retired later
(9%) died in office

24 (43%) retired under R president
32 (57%) retired under D president
5 (9%) retired in first year of D president

Carter only had 12 appointees in his first two years, but he had 44 in his last two years after a court expansion bill was passed.  The appointees in the last two years seem more liberal than those in the first two years.