Sunday, April 30, 2023

May 2023 Judiciary News

Nominations, Hearings, Confirmations:

Nominations:  Russell Wheeler analyzes the numbers of judicial nominations and confirmations by Biden and other recent presidents.

Nominations:  Biden's judicial confirmations have slowed due to the illness of Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and lack of blue slips from R senators.

Feinstein:  Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) is facing calls to resign due to her age and ailments.  She has offered to temporarily relinquish her seat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is unable to process controversial nominations in her absence.  However, R senators refused to go along with the plan.

1st Circuit:  Michael Delaney, the nominee for the NH seat on the 1st Circuit, is facing opposition from some leftist groups due to signing a brief defending a parental notification law on abortion.  Several D senators on the Judiciary Committee have not endorsed Delaney.  There is also opposition from both the right and left due to his advocacy as an attorney for publically disclosing the identity of a minor victim of sexual assault.

D-CO:  Magistrate Judge Kato Crews was stumped by the question "Do you know what a Brady motion is?"  The question from Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) came during Crews' confirmation hearing.

ND-MS:  Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith refused to return a blue slip for nominee Scott Colom, citing his  "opposition to legislation to protect female athletes" and support from George Soros.


The Federal Judiciary:

Thomas:  A ProPublica article attacked Justice Thomas for vacationing with his longtime friend Harlan Crow.  However, Thomas did not break any existing ethics rule, and other justices have gone on similar trips.  Several media reports contained errors or hyped minor misstatements to create the appearance of a scandal.

Gorsuch:  Politico criticized Justice Gorsuch for selling his joint ownership in a piece of property, even though the buyer is a liberal, and Gorsuch did nothing wrong.

Alito:  The Wall Street Journal interviewed Justice Alito said regarding the leak of his draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.  He said, "I personally have a pretty good idea who is responsible, but that’s different from the level of proof that is needed to name somebody".  Alito stated that the leak risked the lives of the justices, and dismissed the theory that the leak came from someone on the right.

5th Circuit:  Judge Kyle Duncan of the 5th Circuit was shouted down by protesters at Stanford University and condemned in a speech by the DEI dean.  The college later apologized and released a letter.  The DEI dean was put on leave, and sniped back.  No punishment will be imposed on the students.

9th Circuit:  Judge Edward Leavy died on March 12 at age 93.  He was appointed to D-OR in 1984 and the 9th Circuit in 1987 by Reagan.  He took senior status in 1997.

Federal Circuit:  Federal Circuit Chief Judge Kimberly Moore "has filed a judicial complaint against Judge Pauline Newman under the Judicial Conduct and Disability Act" claiming that Newman is unable to fulfill her duties due to slow issuance of opinions and concerns of colleagues.  Newman is contesting the claim, and other colleagues object to the filing.  Newman is 95 and was appointed by Reagan in 1984.  Moore was appointed by W in 2006.

Vacancy Declarations:  There are now 105 current and future judicial vacancies.  New vacancies over the past month are listed below.
SD-TX: Lynn Hughes (Reagan) 2/12/23 (senior)
D-OR: Marco Hernandez (Obama) 8/21/24 (senior)
WD-NY: Frank P. Geraci Jr. (Obama) 4/1/23 (retired)
ND-IL: Thomas Durkin (Obama) 12/26/23 (senior)
D-NJ: John Vasquez (Obama) 9/8/23 (resigned)
WD-TX: Earl Yeakel (W) 5/1/23 (senior)
ND-TX: Barbara Lynn (Clinton) 5/15/23 (senior)
D-ME: Jon Levy (Obama) 5/6/24 (senior)

State Supreme Courts:

Connecticut:  The US Senate confirmed Connecticut Supreme Court Justice Maria Araújo Kahn to the 2nd Circuit by a 51-42 vote. Governor Ned Lamont will make his second appointment to the Connecticut Supreme Court.

Delaware:  Governor John Carney nominated Superior Court Judge Abigail LeGrow and lawyer N. Christopher Griffiths to the Delaware Supreme Court.  They will replace  Justice James Vaughn, Jr. (D), who is retiring, and Justice Tamika Montgomery-Reeves (D), who was confirmed to the 3rd Circuit.  The Delaware Supreme Court cannot have more than 3 of 5 justices from the same party.

Florida:  Justice Ricky Polston resigned from the Florida Supreme Court on March 31.  Polston, age 67, is a conservative who was appointed by Charlie Crist in 2008.  Governor Ron DeSantis will appoint a replacement from a list selected by the Judicial Nominating Commission.  Initially, there were only three applicants, so nominations were reopened and 15 candidates were selected for interviews.

New York:  Governor Kathy Hochul nominated Justice Rowan Wilson to become Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals.  Wilson, age 62, is a black liberal whose nomination follows the rejection of moderate Hector LaSalle in February.  The list of finalists included three current justices, Anthony Cannataro, Shirley Troutman, and Rowan Wilson, and had only two common nominees with the previous list.  Hochul also nominated former NY solicitor general Caitlin Halligan, age 56, to replace Wilson.  She was nominated to the DC Circuit by Obama in 2010-13, but filibustered by R senators.

Pennsylvania:  The primary election to fill the seat of the late Justice Max Baer (D) is on May 16.  Pennsylvania Superior Court judge Daniel McCaffery of Philadelphia was endorsed by the PA dems over judge Deborah Kunselman of Beaver County.  Carolyn Carluccio, the president judge of Montgomery County Court, was endorsed by the PA GOP over Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court judge Patricia McCullough.  The general election is on November 8, 2023.

Wisconsin:  On April 4, leftist Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Janet Protasiewicz won 56% to 44% for conservative former justice Dan Kelly.  Kelly ran a lackluster campaign and was significantly outspent.  Leftists will have a 4-3 majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court for the first time since 2008.


Ed Whelan has a new Substack, "Confirmation Tales", where he tells his stories of working on judicial confirmation battles.  The first few entries deal with his work for Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Bill Clinton's nomination of Ruth Bader Ginsberg.


Friday, April 07, 2023

The Downtown Arena Returns

The proposal to build an arena/convention center in downtown Kalamazoo has returned after a decade of dormancy.

Plans revealed for new arena in downtown Kalamazoo
Residents excited, concerned over $300M event center planned for Kalamazoo
10 things to know about the new $300M arena planned for downtown Kalamazoo
‘A dream that hasn’t come true’: Why prior plans to build a downtown Kalamazoo arena flopped
County finalizes land sale for $300M arena in downtown Kalamazoo

The idea originated decades ago as one of a series of plans to revitalize downtown Kalamazoo.  In the 1990s, downtown was legitimately struggling, with several major retailers and employers leaving the area.  Converting the Kalamazoo Mall to a one-way street and uncovering Arcadia Creek were implemented to mixed results.  The revitalization of downtown wasn't due to these government projects, however, but to conversion of old buildings to apartments, allowing more people to live downtown.

The good news is that this proposal will not be funded by tax dollars.  Previous versions of the proposal would have imposed a tax on local hotels.  This was never implemented due to bipartisan opposition to corporate welfare.

Questions remain about some aspects of the proposal.  WMU's hockey and basketball games and Kalamazoo Wings hockey would move to the arena, despite attendance figures that don't require a larger venue.  WMU will likely need buses to bus students to the arena to avoid dropoff in student attendance for their games.

Another question is whether there is sufficient parking for events that actually do fill the arena to capacity.  (The proposal does include a parking ramp.)

The most notable aspect of the new proposal is that it includes giveaways to minority activists.  It gives $6 million to the Northside Association, and includes set-asides for minority businesses.  The proposal originally referenced BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and Persons of Color), but this was replaced with "underserved and historically underrepresented" people.  With the Supreme Court likely to strike down affirmative action soon, racial giveaways could cause problems for this proposal.

This blog has plenty of coverage of previous versions of this proposal.
Forum of Discontent
Arena of Conflict
Dome of Deceit
Mackinac Center on the Arena
Kitchens' Tossed Salad
Who Supports the Arena?
Gazette Supports the Arena
No Arena, for Now
Rejecting the Arena
Bad Ideas Never Go Away