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.
In June, the Senate GOP leadership proclaimed that it would invoke the “Thurmond Rule” and oppose appointment of each appeals court nominee recommended by President Barack Obama until after the November election. This decision threatens the confirmation of William Kayatta, the excellent, noncontroversial nominee whom Obama selected after First Circuit Judge Kermit Lipez took senior status in late 2011. Because Mr. Kayatta is a strong consensus nominee, he does not satisfy the Thurmond Rule and GOP senators must expeditiously allow a floor vote. Should the Republican leaders refuse to vote, Maine GOP Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins must join other senators in favoring cloture, so that Kayatta secures a merits vote.
The proposed antitrust whistleblower legislation introduced last week by Senators Leahy (D-Vt.) and Grassley (R-Iowa) is certainly a step in the right direction. It would for the first time provide protections for employees reporting to the government or within their company antitrust violations in which their company is actually or potentially engaging. Up until now, the government has largely relied on the antitrust wrongdoers themselves to self-report their criminal conduct through the government's corporate leniency program. The draft legislation follows the recommendations the Government Accountability Office (GAO) made in a report it released last summer. After studying the state of criminal antitrust enforcement, the GAO concluded that bringing whistleblowers into the enforcement mix would be an important supplement to the leniency program.
This month, Eleventh Circuit Judge J. L. Edmondson assumes senior status after a quarter century of valuable service. His decision leaves the bench with 13 vacancies in the 179 appeals court judgeships and the Eleventh Circuit with two in twelve. These openings, which comprise more than seven percent of the judgeships nationwide and 17 percent in the Eleventh Circuit erode the delivery of justice. Therefore, President Barack Obama must swiftly nominate, and the Senate promptly confirm, appellate judges, so that the vacancies will be filled systemwide and in the Eleventh Circuit.
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), consistently described by the media as “a piece of legislation that has always enjoyed bipartisan support,” is trapped in congressional stalemate. VAWA has the support of the states’ attorneys general, more than 1,000 nonprofit organizations, including organizations of medical professionals, the broadest possible range of faith groups, as well as criminal justice system personnel, so it would be a devastating shame if VAWA itself falls victim to the gridlocked politics that have killed so many other worthy bills.
If House Republicans are sincerely trying to obtain documents important to their “Operation Fast and Furious” investigation, rather than just provoking another partisan confrontation with a Democratic president, they are doing it all wrong.
Just two months after the government started accepting applications, next year’s highly skilled worker visas hit the numerical cap. No firm will be now able to apply to sponsor highly skilled foreign workers. Foreign high skilled workers neither “take” American jobs nor do they lower American wages. The low numerical cap, along with other regulations and visa fees, need to go, if the American economy is to grow.
The H-1B visa is a three year, employer-sponsored work visa, renewable one time, for highly skilled foreign workers. Only 85, 000 such visas are issued to annually to private firms.
Today the Senate Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee is holding a hearing to air concerns about the proposed purchase of EMI’s recorded music business by Universal Music Group. Congress, regulators and industry analysts are increasingly questioning this merger, and rightly so: the potential impact on competition in the music distribution marketplace – particularly the development of Internet distribution channels – and the overall effect on consumer choices are portentous.
On December 15th, 2010, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed while on patrol in Arizona. This brave man gave his life in service to our country and was murdered with guns that, for all practical purposes, were handed to Mexican cartels by the very government he died serving.
Today, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for failure to produce documents relating to Operation Fast and Furious - an effort approved by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in 2009, authorizing the transfer of thousands of weapons to Mexican drug cartels in order to build a case against drug smugglers.
Today, we will join hundreds of people of faith across the nation to fast for 23 hours, symbolizing the 23 hours per day that tens of thousands of prisoners, inmates, and detainees, are warehoused in solitary confinement. As we have seen in recent prisoner hunger strikes in California and Virginia, refusing food is one of the few means prisoners have to protest their conditions in solitary confinement. We will fast and pray for divine intervention that “drives out fear.” It is fear, rather than evidence-based best practices, that has led to an explosion in America’s use of solitary confinement over the past several decades.