The federal courts now experience 83 openings in 858 appeals and district court judgeships. The Tenth Circuit has two in a dozen, one of which is an Oklahoma position, and the Northern District of Oklahoma encounters one in three. These vacancies undercut justice. Accordingly, President Barack Obama must promptly nominate, and the Senate expeditiously confirm, judges to fill the empty seats. The upper chamber needs to immediately vote on two superb Oklahoma nominees.
As the details of the General Petraeus affair continue to unravel, there still remains a shroud of mystery over the FBI leak that prompted this whole media frenzy. We know that FBI agent Fred Humphries was the whistleblower who first reported the agency’s investigation to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. We know that Humphries was the agent to whom Florida socialite Jill Kelley directed the threatening emails she received from Petraeus paramour Paula Broadwell, which triggered the investigation. We know that Humphries is a family friend of Kelley (and once sent her a shirtless photo of himself, a silly side note to this sordid saga). And we know that Humphries was for some reason unhappy with the pace and direction of the FBI’s investigation which caused him to reach out to Congress.
On this Thanksgiving holiday, the United States circuit and district courts have reason to be thankful that a number of the 83 lower court vacancies which have existed for more than three years may finally be filled. Those openings, which first reached 90 in August 2009, have hovered at or near that figure ever since. However, it remains unclear precisely how many of those empty seats the U.S. Senate and President Barack Obama will soon fill. This uncertainty persists, especially given the mixed record of cooperation on judicial appointments compiled throughout the first Obama Administration and the myriad difficulties, particularly the “fiscal cliff,” which the nation continues to experience. Nevertheless, Obama and the Senate must work together this Thanksgiving to fill the unoccupied posts.
An essential duty that the Constitution delegates the president is appointing federal judges. President Barack Obama capably fulfilled that responsibility by working closely with Virginia Democratic Senators Jim Webb and Mark Warner and efficaciously proposing and appointing strong jurists, so that the Virginia federal bench has all its judges.
Halloween is the perfect occasion for analyzing scary federal judicial selection with three judges assuming senior status on October 31. The bench experiences 83 vacancies in the 858 appellate and district judgeships. The openings first spiked to 90 in August 2009 and have since remained near ten percent. These empty seats are ghost-like apparitions that do nothing to resolve huge caseloads. Thus, President Barack Obama must promptly nominate, and the Senate expeditiously confirm, lower court nominees, or the nation will confront the nightmare of a judiciary that cannot deliver justice.
Since 1987, Republican and Democratic accusations, countercharges and paybacks have haunted selection mainly because of divided government. Democrats now control the White House and the Senate. However, the party should continue cooperating with Republicans to reduce these counterproductive dynamics because the process has stopped until the November lame duck session.
The first presidential debate tomorrow (October 3) will almost surely include a question about appointing judges. Barack Obama’s answer will be fairly mundane. The president will likely stand on his appointment of Supreme Court Justices Kagan and Sotomayor and repeat his line about picking nominees with empathy for women and ordinary folks. But for Mitt Romney, whose record on federal judicial appointments is yet to be written, the judges question provides an opportunity for a memorable answer – one that can win him the votes of conservatives, independents and libertarians.
On September 10, the 112th “Do Nothing” Senate returned to the nation’s capital following the lengthy August recess. The upper chamber recessed that Friday after learning the House of Representatives had chosen to do very little except adopt the Continuing Resolution which allows the government to continue operating.
The Senate came back this Wednesday to consider the Continuing Resolution. Before chamber members leave town, senators must finish one essential piece of business. The chamber needs to consider all 17 highly qualified district court nominees whom President Barack Obama carefully submitted and the Judiciary Committee reported before the Senate departed for the summer recess. Each of these nominees is excellent and has received enthusiastic support of home state senators, especially Republicans, 14 won approval without any negative votes on their candidacies’ substance and 12 will occupy vacancies designated “judicial emergencies” due to their length or substantial dockets.
This past Monday marked the 225th anniversary of when our Founding Fathers signed the Constitution.
This document represents our Founder’s great hope for the United States – Hope that it could be a place free of tyranny and oppression, and a place where the law protects our liberty, not dictates our lives.
On Constitution Day, the United States pays homage to the document which has bound the nation together for 225 years. Many facets of the Constitution reflect the Framers’ genius. One is requiring interbranch cooperation, so that no branch accumulates too much power. Illustrative is Article II’s provision for judicial appointments. The Constitution states that the President nominates, and with Senate advice and consent appoints, federal judges. On Constitution Day, it is fitting to scrutinize that responsibility’s discharge and ascertain whether selection is functioning as intended. Unfortunately, the answer is no.
Last month, U.S. Circuit Judge Emilio Garza took senior status after 20 years of dedicated service. His action means that the judiciary has 78 openings in the 856 appellate and district judgeships, while the Fifth Circuit has two in seventeen and the Texas District Courts have four in forty-one. These vacancies, which constitute almost ten percent of the judgeships systemwide, twelve percent in the Fifth Circuit and ten percent for the Texas Districts undercut the delivery of justice. Accordingly, President Barack Obama must promptly nominate, and the Senate expeditiously approve, circuit and district judges, so that the empty seats will be filled nationwide as well as in the Fifth Circuit and Texas Districts.