Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

Eleventh Circuit Confirmations

Yesterday the Senate, by a vote of 64-31, confirmed President Trump’s nomination of Florida supreme court justice Robert J. Luck to the Eleventh Circuit.

Luck, I’m reliably informed, has already received and accepted his commission and is now a member of the Eleventh Circuit. That means that Judge Gerald Tjoflat, whose seat Luck has filled, is now in senior status. Tjoflat, who turns 90 next month, had been the longest-serving appellate judge in active status: President Gerald Ford appointed him in 1975 to what was then the Fifth Circuit. (The Fifth Circuit was divided into the Fifth and Eleventh Circuits in 1981.)

If Luck serves in active status as long as Tjoflat did, he will take senior status in 2063. And he will be only 84 then.

At 11:30 today, the Senate will vote on President Trump’s nomination of Florida supreme court justice Barbara Lagoa to the Eleventh Circuit. The Senate invoked cloture on her nomination yesterday by a margin of 80-15, so it’s a safe bet that she will be confirmed. (Update at 1 p.m.: Lagoa has been confirmed by the same 80-15 vote.)

When Lagoa takes office (probably on Friday, I’m told), the Eleventh Circuit will have seven appointees of Republican presidents versus five appointees of Democratic presidents. At the outset of the Trump administration, the Eleventh Circuit had eight appointees of Democratic presidents, only three appointees of Republican presidents, and one vacancy. It will become the third federal appellate court to have flipped to a majority of appointees of Republican presidents. (The Third Circuit was the first to do so; the Second Circuit flipped just last week, upon the appointment of Steven Menashi.)

Six of the thirteen appellate courts—D.C., First, Fourth, Ninth, Tenth, Federal Circuit—still have a majority of Democratic appointees, and none of them seems likely to flip any time soon.

Upon Lagoa’s taking office, President Trump will have appointed five of the Eleventh Circuit’s twelve active judges. That’s the highest percentage (42%) of any appellate court, and a sixth pick (Andrew Brasher) is in the pipeline.

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