Monday, April 01, 2024

April 2024 Judiciary News

Nominations, Hearings, Confirmations:

Manchin:  Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) says he will not vote for any judicial nominee who has no support from Republican senators.  This may make it harder for Biden nominees to be confirmed.

3rd Circuit:  The nomination of Adeel Mangi is in danger as three D senators, Joe Manchin, Catherine Cortez Masto, and Jacky Rosen have announced their opposition.  Mangi, who served on the board of advisors for a group that promoted anti-Semitic and anti-Christian events, apologized for failing to disclose his participation in an event with pro-terrorist group CAIR.

4th Circuit:  Carrie Severino exposes the radical record of nominee Nicole Berner.  She was confirmed 50-47.

7th Circuit:  Judge Nancy Moldonado (ND-IL) said that "assault weapons may be banned because they’re extraordinarily dangerous and are not appropriate for legitimate self-defense purposes".  Under questioning by Senator John Kennedy (R-LA), she admitted that she doesn't know what an 'assault weapon' is.

D-DC:  Carrie Severino exposes nominee Amir Ali, who is president of the MacArthur Justice Center, which advocates defunding the police and ending mass incarceration.


The Federal Judiciary:

Sotomayor:  A few voices on the left are calling for Justice Sotomayor to retire this year, while others are reluctant to do so for diversity reasons.  Sotomayor is 69 and has diabetes.

Judge shopping:  The Judicial Conference of the United States announced a policy randomly assign cases seeking nationwide injunctions, ending the ability to file cases in jurisdictions served by one or two judges.  However, after criticism, it admitted that it had no power to enforce this policy and its announcement was only advisory.  The policy would only have affected a few districts in Texas and Louisiana, and would not affect ideologically homogeneous districts in blue states.

Federal Circuit:  Judge Christopher "Casey" Cooper (D-DC) dismissed most of a lawsuit by Judge Pauline Newman (Federal Circuit) challenging her suspension due to alleged disability.  Critics claim she is unable to fulfill her duties, but supporters say she is being mistreated due to her frequent dissents.  The remaining claim targets the constitutionality of the Judicial Conduct and Disability Act.  The Federal Circuit's judicial council is asking for this to be dismissed also.

SD-IL:  Three judges were admonished by the 7th district judicial council for issuing an order in 2020 promising to grant motions in part based on the race and sex of the lawyer who would argue it.  The judges are Nancy Rosenstengel, Staci Yandle, and David Dugan.  Rosenstengel and Yandle were appointed by Obama and Dugan was appointed by Trump.

SD-FL:  Judge Aileen Cannon has had difficulty retaining clerks since being assigned the Trump classified documents case.  The complex, high-profile case has led to long hours and stress for both the judge and her clerks.

Vacancy Declarations:  There are now 74 current and future judicial vacancies.  New vacancies over the past two months are listed below.
MD-NC:  Catherine Eagles (Obama) 12/31/24 (senior)
ND-IL:  Nancy Maldonado (Biden) TBD (elevated)

State Supreme Courts:

Arkansas:  The election was held on March 5.
Chief Justice:  Justice Karen Baker (D) won 27.2% and Justice Rhonda Wood (R) won 26.3%, while Justice Barbara Webb (R) trailed with 25.9% and former state rep Jay Martin (D) was last with 20.6%.  A runoff will be held between Baker and Wood in November.  Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R) will appoint a replacement for whichever justice wins.
Seat 2:  Seat 3 incumbent Courtney Rae Hudson won 61-39 without a runoff.  Governor Sanders will appoint a replacement to Seat 3.

Massachusetts: Governor Maura Healey (D) nominated Gabrielle Wolohojian to the Supreme Judicial Court.  She clerked for Rya Zobel (D-MA) and Bailey Aldrich (1st Circuit).  She was appointed to the Appeals Court in 2008 by Deval Patrick. Perhaps most notably, Wolohojian is a former romantic partner of Governor Healey.

Michigan: Justice David Viviano (R) will retire from the Michigan Supreme Court in 2024.  He was appointed by Governor Rick Snyder (R) in 2013, and is only 52.  His decision makes it more difficult for Republicans to hold the seat, as incumbent justices receive a special designation on the ballot.  State rep Andrew Fink and Court of Appeals judge Mark Boonstra will seek the R nomination, and law professor Kimberly Ann Thomas will seek the D nomination.

Minnesota:  Justice Barry Anderson will retire on May 10, and Justice Margaret Chutich will retire on July 31.  Anderson was appointed by Tim Pawlenty in 2004, and is the only R appointee on the court.  Chutich was appointed by Mark Dayton in 2016.  Governor Tim Walz (D) will appoint their replacements.

Tennessee: Governor Bill Lee appointed Shelby County Circuit Court judge Mary L. Wagner to the Tennessee Supreme Court.  She is 39 and was appointed to her current position in 2016 by Bill Haslam.
She will replace Justice Roger Page in August 2024.

Texas Supreme Court:  On March 5, incumbent justice John Devine (R) barely won renomination 50.4% to 49.6% against Brian Walker.  Devine faced criticism concerning his work ethic and failure to recuse in one case.

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals:  In the March 5 primary, three R incumbents lost renomination.  The three had ruled that the Texas AG was unable to prosecute voter fraud cases, leading AG Ken Paxton (R) to support challengers to the three.  The results are
Chief:  David Schenck 62.7%, Sharon Keller 37.3%
Place 7:  Gina Parker 66.1%, Barbara Parker Hervey 33.9%
Place 8:  Lee Finley 53.9%, Michelle Slaughter 46.1%

Numbers and Trivia:

8th Circuit: As of March 11, the new chief judge of the 8th Circuit is Steven Colloton, who was appointed by W in 2002.  He replaces Lavenski Smith, who was appointed by W in 2003.  The Presidents who appointed chief judges of the 13 appeals courts are W (2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, Fed), and Obama (1, 4, 9, DC).


Napolitano:  In a recent interview (20 min), Andrew Napolitano mentioned that in 2017, President Trump seriously considered him for the Supreme Court seat that went to Neal Gorsuch.  Napolitano is a former New Jersey judge turned libertarian pundit and Fox News contributor.

On Ed Whelan's Substack, "Confirmation Tales", recent posts deal with George W. Bush's nomination of John Roberts.