Thursday, November 30, 2023

December 2023 Judiciary News

Nominations, Hearings, Confirmations:

Judiciary Committee:  The late senator Dianne Feinstein’s seat on the Senate Judiciary Committee will be filled by Laphonza Butler (D-CA), just as she filled Feinstein's senate seat.

Judiciary Committee:  Senate Ds are planning to subpoena conservative activists Harlan Crow, Robin Arkley, and Leonard Leo as part of their effort to smear conservative judges.  The committee stalled due to R opposition to the plan, including threats to subpoena numerous leftist individuals and organizations.

ND-OK:  Under questioning from Sen. John Kennedy, nominee Sara Hill was unable to explain the difference between a "stay" order and an "injunction" order.

SD-FL:  The White House finally reached a deal with Florida's R senators on judicial nominations.  Notably, the deal includes David Leibowitz, "nephew of billionaire Norman Braman, a longtime Rubio benefactor", who was considered but not nominated under Trump.


The Federal Judiciary:

Ethics:  The Supreme Court issued a code of ethics, largely codifying its existing practices.  While this is likely a response to leftist attacks on the court, it is unlikely that critics will be satisfied.

3rd Circuit:  Maryanne Trump Barry, older sister of former president Trump, died in November at age 86.  She was appointed to D-NJ by Reagan in 1983 and to the 3rd Circuit by Clinton in 1999.  She took senior status in 2011 and retired in 2019.

Vacancy Declarations:  There are now 97 current and future judicial vacancies.  New vacancies over the past month are listed below.
ED-LA: Eldon Fallon (Clinton) 1/1/24 (senior)
ED-MO: Ronnie White (Obama) 7/31/24 (retired)
ED-CA: Kimberly Mueller (Obama) 9/17/24 (senior)
D-MD: James Bredar (Obama) 4/30/24 (senior)
SD-OH: Algernon Marbley (Clinton) TBD (senior)
CD-IL: James Shadid (Obama) 9/27/24 (senior)
ND-CA: Edward Davila (Clinton) TBD (senior)
MD-PA: Malachy Mannion (Obama) 1/3/24 (senior)
D-AZ: G. Murray Snow (W) 10/21/24 (senior)
1st Circuit: William Kayatta (Obama) TBD (senior)
D-MA: Patti Saris (Clinton) TBD (senior)
ND-IL: Rebecca Pallmeyer (Clinton) 8/1/24 (senior)
MD-FL: Timothy Corrigan (W) 11/2/24 (senior)

State Supreme Courts:

Hawaii:  Governor Josh Green (D) nominated Lisa Ginoza and Vladimir Devens to fill the Hawaii Supreme Court seats vacated by Justices Michael Wilson and Paula Nakayama.  Ginoza is chief judge of the Intermediate Court of Appeals, and has served on it since 2010.  Devens is a labor attorney in private practice.

Idaho:  Governor Brad Little appointed Cynthia Meyer to the Idaho Supreme Court.  She was appointed a district judge by Butch Otter in 2015.  She was one of four people nominated by the Idaho Judicial Council for the seat being vacated by John Stegner.

Massachusetts:  Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Justice David Lowy will retire from the court on February 3, 2024 to become general counsel for University of Massachusetts.  He was appointed by Charlie Baker in 2016.  Governor Maura Healey (D) will appoint replacements for Lowy and Elspeth Cypher, who will retire on January 12. 

Missouri:  Governor Mike Parson (R) appointed Missouri Court of Appeals judge Ginger Gooch to the seat on the Missouri Supreme Court vacated by Justice Patricia Breckenridge.  She was appointed to the Missouri Court of Appeals in 2022.  The other two finalists for the position were Missouri Court of Appeals judges Michael Gardner and John Torbitzky, who were among 22 applicants for the position.  Gooch and Gardner were finalists for the previous vacancy in August.

New Hampshire:  New Hampshire Supreme Court Justice Gary Hicks will be age-limited on November 30.  He was appointed by John Lynch (D) in 2006.  Governor Chris Sununu (R) has nominated Melissa Beth Countway to the seat.  She was appointed to the circuit court by Sununu in 2017 and was previously a county prosecutor.  If the NH Executive Council votes to confirm the nomination, the NH Supreme Court will have 4R and 1D appointees.

Pennsylvania:  Daniel McCaffery (D) defeated Carolyn Carluccio (R) 53-47 for an open seat on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.  The seat was previously held by Max Baer (D), but had been open for a year after his death.  The court will again be 5D, 2R.

Tennessee:  Justice Roger Page will retire in August 2024.  He was appointed in 2016 by Bill Haslam.  Governor Bill Lee will get his third appointment to the court.

Wyoming:  Wyoming Supreme Court Justice Keith Kautz will leave the court on March 26 due to age limits.  He was appointed by Matt Mead in 2015.  Governor Mark Gordon (R) will get his second appointment to the court.


On Ed Whelan's Substack, "Confirmation Tales", recent posts deal with Bill Clinton's nomination of federal judges.