Nomination Nation

News, views, and gossip about judicial appointments. Please send your tips to Pozinski [at] gmail [dot] com or Senator [dot] Spectator [at] gmail [dot] com.

Friday, December 31, 2004

"The Judges ... shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour"

Perhaps not, if a group of law professors have their way. Read "Coming to Terms With Supreme Court Tenure" for more details.

Pozinski

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Bush, Getting Ready to Rumble

According to this New York Times story:

President Bush plans to renominate 20 candidates for federal judgeships who have been unable to win confirmation in the Senate, the White House said today, in a signal that the president is ready for a showdown early next year.
Bitchin' Camaro kindly provided this list of judges whom Bush will renominate:

Court of Appeals:
Terrence W. Boyle (4th Circuit) (first nominated May 9, 2001)
Priscilla Richman Owen (5th Circuit) (first nominated May 9, 2001)
David W. McKeague (6th Circuit) (first nominated November 8, 2001)
Susan Bieke Neilson (6th Circuit) (first nominated November 8, 2001)
Henry W. Saad (6th Circuit) (first nominated November 8, 2001)
Richard A. Griffin (6th Circuit) (first nominated June 26, 2002)
William H. Pryor (11th Circuit) (first nominated April 9, 2003)
William Gerry Myers, III (9th Circuit) (first nominated May 15, 2003)
Janice Rogers Brown (District of Columbia Circuit) (first nominated July 25, 2003)
Brett M. Kavanaugh (District of Columbia Circuit) (first nominated July 25, 2003)
William James Haynes, II (4th Circuit) (first nominated September 29, 2003)
Thomas B. Griffith (District of Columbia Circuit) (first nominated May 10, 2004)

District Courts:
James C. Dever, III (Eastern District, North Carolina) (first nominated May 22, 2002)
Thomas L. Ludington (Eastern District, Michigan) (first nominated September 12, 2002)
Robert J. Conrad (Western District, North Carolina) (first nominated April 28, 2003)
Daniel P. Ryan (Eastern District, Michigan) (first nominated April 28, 2003)
Peter G. Sheridan (New Jersey) (first nominated November 5, 2003)
Paul A. Crotty (Southern District, New York) (first nominated September 7, 2004)
Sean F. Cox (Eastern District, Michigan) (first nominated September 10, 2004)
J. Michael Seabright (Hawaii) (first nominated September 15, 2004)

Please email Pozinski or Senator Spectator if you know anything about the above nominees.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

The Yankee Model

Will Baude, proprietor of the Crescat Sententia blog, has a column online at The New Republic suggesting that Bush should select a replacement for Chief Justice Rehnquist (if/when there is a vacancy) from outside the Court rather than elevating a current justice.

I call this the Yankee model because the New York Yankees (of late) try to build winning teams by acquiring players from elsewhere rather than strengthening their farm system. The results are subject to debate.

Monday, December 13, 2004

What Are the Odds?

Today's issue of The Recorder contains an article about an online betting site where you can wager on who you think will become the next Supreme Court Justice, or which Justice will be elevated to the position of Chief Justice if that position were to become available. In the former category, Judges Luttig and Wilkinson of the Fourth Circuit are heavily favored. Judges Easterbrook (CA7) and Kozinski (CA9) are long-shots along with Senators Hatch (R-UT) and Kyl (R-AZ).

Justices Thomas and Scalia are predictably favored in the latter race, while you would make a killing in the event of a Souter Chiefship.

Note: Nomination Nation makes no representations regarding the legality or advisability of visiting this site and placing any wagers. Of course, if you want to see the odds for entertainment or other purposes, click on "Propositions & Futures," then "Politics Props." Just sayin'.

The ghost of filibusters future

From the Washington Post:
As speculation mounts that Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist will step down from the Supreme Court soon because of thyroid cancer, Senate Republican leaders are preparing for a showdown to keep Democrats from blocking President Bush's judicial nominations, including a replacement for Rehnquist.
Republicans say that Democrats have abused the filibuster by blocking 10 of the president's 229 judicial nominees in his first term -- although confirmation of Bush nominees exceeds in most cases the first-term experience of presidents dating to Ronald Reagan. Describing the filibusters as intolerable, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) has hinted he may resort to an unusual parliamentary maneuver, dubbed the "nuclear option," to thwart such filibusters.
Democrats, however, face several constraints. Democratic strategists said that some of the party's senators from states Bush carried in the presidential election could be reluctant to support a filibuster for fear of being portrayed as obstructionist -- a tactic the GOP used successfully in congressional elections this year and in 2002.
Although frustrated Senate leaders have resorted in the past to tactics involving at least some aspects of the nuclear option, none of the confrontations approached the significance -- or political explosiveness -- of the current dispute, with implications stretching beyond the issue of judicial nominations.
Although it would not directly threaten filibusters on legislative issues, critics believe it could open the door to further erosion of the Senate's long tradition of unlimited debate as a last refuge for political minorities and a brake on precipitous action by presidents and legislative majorities. Although Bush would have an easier time getting the judges he wants, Democrats warn that he could run into trouble on Social Security, tax simplification and other major second-term initiatives that will probably require Democratic cooperation for passage.
Use of the nuclear option "would make the Senate look like a banana republic . . . and cause us to try to shut it down in every way," Schumer said. "Social Security and tax reform need Democratic support. If they use the nuclear option, in all likelihood they would not get Democratic support" for those and other initiatives, he added.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Pickering Retires

As expected, Charles Pickering announced his retirement from the federal bench yesterday. Pickering made it clear that his retirement was permanent, noting that President Bush could now nominate younger candidates. This would appear to be a dubious victory for Democrats, considering that, as alluded to by Pickering, Bush will now nominate a candidate who is likely to serve much longer than the 67-year old Pickering would have. Moreover, certain racial skeletons in his closet notwithstanding, Pickering was regarded by most informed litigants as a judicial moderate.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Prepping for war

War is serious business. The New York Times has the details on the Supreme Court nominations to come.

With the presidential race over and Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist ill with thyroid cancer, the Washington advocacy establishment - that vast machinery of special interest groups, research institutions and pundits who thrive on the periphery of politics - is gearing up for the next big fight: the battle over the Supreme Court.
"This will be a repeat, and all the organizations that were engaged in work around the election, from big groups to small groups, will feel that this is their own personal fight," said Nan Aron, the president of the Alliance for Justice, a liberal advocacy group.

Ms. Aron said her office had been flooded with calls from students, lawyers and activists "who were involved in get-out-the-vote work and now want to turn their attention to the Supreme Court."Like the presidential election, a Supreme Court nomination fight will feature polling, paid television advertising and grass-roots organizing. Ms. Aron said she had been "on the road for weeks," recruiting volunteers and trying to build networks in various states. Mr. Neas said liberal groups planned to survey American attitudes on issues like civil rights, the environment and abortion, to gather data for an eventual advocacy campaign.

And like the presidential election, a nomination fight will be expensive. Jay Sekulow, the chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, a conservative group, said his organization expected to spend $3 million to $5 million. The money, Mr. Sekulow said, is already in the bank.

"There's a comprehensive game plan that will unfold upon the retirement," said Mr. Sekulow, who has taken part in the Gray-Meese strategy talks. "It's already in process. It's going to include everything from media, paid media, to grass roots in various states where senators are up for re-election in '06, to position papers on potential nominees."

And the kicker:

There will even be a war room. People for the American Way built it, with 35 computers, Mr. Neas said, to function as "a nerve center" during a confirmation battle.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Reid on Thomas

According to this CNN story, Senator Harry Reid does not think highly of Justice Thomas:

When asked to comment on Thomas as a possible replacement for Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Reid told NBC's "Meet the Press": "I think that he has been an embarrassment to the Supreme Court.

"I think that his opinions are poorly written. I just don't think that he's done a good job as a Supreme Court justice."



Sunday, December 05, 2004

Oh boy, a preview of fights to come

The Washington Post reports that Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) wants to play a part in the President's Supreme Court appointments.

He cited the autobiography of Sen. Orrin Hatch, in which the Utah Republican said former President Clinton came to him as Judiciary Committee chairman with suggestions of nominees that could win approval from the other side of the aisle.

Reid suggested he may be open to the possibility of Justice Antonin Scalia as a replacement for ailing Chief Justice William Rehnquist. "This is one smart guy," said Reid. "I disagree with many of the results that he arrives at, but his reason for arriving at those results are very hard to dispute." Reid called Justice Clarence Thomas "an embarrassment." He added: "I think that his opinions are poorly written. I just don't think that he's done a good job."

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Pickering losing heart for confirmation fight?

This article includes a quote from Senator Lott which indicates that Charles Pickering may have decided to end his quest for confirmation to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Specifically, the article quotes Lott as follows:

He could be reappointed at some time in the future, but I don't think at this point he wants to... He's a good man, and this has been a smear on his reputation.

If so, it is unclear whether Mississippi's Republican senators are prepared to submit other potential nominees for Bush's consideration or whether they might wait and see if Pickering has a change of heart after, for example, the implementation of the "nuclear option."

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