Bench Memos

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Status Report on Appellate-Court Nominations


With the Senate in recess until September 4, here’s a status report on nominees to the federal courts of appeals.  Because it matters for internal Senate politics, I also list the state supposedly associated with each seat.  (I say “supposedly” because the work of circuit judges is not tied to any particular state, and the law does not identify their seats by state.)  

1.  One nominee—Judge Leslie Southwick (5th Circuit, Mississippi)—has been reported to the Senate floor. 

2.  Two nominees—Peter Keisler (D.C. Circuit) and Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod (5th Circuit, Texas)—have had their hearings but have not yet been voted out of committee.  Keisler’s hearing took place over a year ago, on August 1, 2006.  Elrod’s occurred last month. 

I note again that in mid-January 2007 (as I discussed here), the Los Angeles Times specifically recommended that Senate Democrats confirm Keisler and, more generally, display a “cooperative spirit” rather than “obstructionism” and “forswear knee-jerk opposition to Bush appointees who are within the legal mainstream.”   

3.  Six nominees—Shalom D. Stone (3rd Circuit, New Jersey), Judge Robert J. Conrad (4th Circuit, North Carolina), Judge Catharina Haynes (5th Circuit, Texas), Raymond M. Kethledge (6th Circuit, Michigan), Stephen J. Murphy (6th Circuit, Michigan), and Judge John Tinder (7th Circuit, Indiana)—await their hearings.  Kethledge and Murphy were first nominated in June 2006, and their nominations were resubmitted in March 2007.  The other four were nominated in mid-July 2007.


(Basic background information on all nine of these pending appellate nominees is available via the hyperlinks in the sidebar on this White House webpage.) 


4.  Only three appellate nominees—Debra Livingston (2nd Circuit, New York), Thomas Hardiman (3rd Circuit, Pennsylvania), and N. Randy Smith (9th Circuit, Idaho)—have been confirmed in 2007.  All three had originally been nominated in previous years. 


5.  Eight court of appeals vacancies, including four in the 4th Circuit (one Maryland, one South Carolina, and two Virginia), await nominations.   


I welcome any corrections to this summary.

Tags: Whelan


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