Fair and Just Courts

Phyllis Schlafly Is 'Very Disappointed' That 'Nobody's Saying Anything' Against Marriage Equality

In an interview with VCY America’s Crosstalk program yesterday, Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly declared that she was “very disappointed in the leadership of all the churches” and “positively amazed” that neither politicians nor pastors are voicing “any objection” to a recent spate of marriage equality rulings in the courts.

“I think everyone in leadership is to blame for not speaking up against this whole series of judges who are knocking down the constitutional provisions who were voted by the people of their state to say that marriage is a man and a woman,” Schlafly said. “Where are they? Where are the spokesmen?”

If only Schlafly read Right Wing Watch, she would find plenty of politicians and church leaders willing to speak out against the marriage equality rulings.

The Gospel of Citizens United: In Hobby Lobby, Corporations Pray for the Right to Deny Workers Contraception

Will corporations be able to claim "religious rights" to discriminate against their female employees -- and possibly others?

West Texas Judges Talk About the Need for More Judges

The Chief Judge, a visiting judge, and a former judge all agree that the Western District of Texas needs more judges to handle the heavy caseload.
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Severe Conditions in Texas Courts

Given the urgent need to fill district court vacancies in Texas, recommending nominees should be among Senators Cornyn and Cruz's top concerns.
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More Professional Diversity in Recent Judicial Nominations

The professional diversity of President Obama's recent judicial nominees will make the judiciary stronger.
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Will Texas Senators Help Delay 5th Circuit Judicial Nominee Gregg Costa?

Cornyn & Cruz should urge their GOP colleagues not to block a committee vote on a consensus nominee to fill a 5th Circuit judicial emergency.
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Senate to Hold Cloture Votes on TN and AR Judicial Nominees

Early this week, the Senate is scheduled to hold cloture votes on four judicial nominees, including Timothy Brooks, nominee for the Western District of Arkansas and Pamela Reeves, nominee for the Eastern District of Tennessee. Brooks and Reeves have been waiting for confirmation votes on the Senate floor since October 31 and November 14, respectively.

As we noted earlier this month, Republicans are routinely delaying nominations on the Senate floor by requiring Democrats to invoke cloture on every single judicial nominee and then piling on hours of unneeded “post-cloture debate” for each nominee who is called up for a vote. This practice creates a weeks-long backlog of nominees awaiting votes and prevents the Senate from moving on to other business. Nominees like Brooks and Reeves could have been confirmed within minutes after they were sent to the Senate floor last year. Instead, both of these nominations were sent back to the  president in early January at the end of the first session of the 113th Congress to be re-nominated. After further needless delays in Committee, the nominees were finally placed on the Senate calendar only to wait an additional two months for consideration.

After the Senate has finally worked through the backlog of nominees to get to the Arkansas and Tennessee vacancies, Republicans are throwing up additional roadblocks, forcing Senator Reid to file cloture petitions, which will further delay their consideration. These nonsensical delays of well qualified nominees undermine the public’s faith in the Senate and create hardship for those seeking justice in the courts.

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A Small, But Important, Step Towards Common Sense in Judicial Confirmation Process

Last week, in advance of a Senate Judiciary Committee vote on six Arizona district court nominees, senior legislative counsel Paul Gordon asked if Arizona Senators Jeff Flake and John McCain would be able to convince their Republican colleagues to break what has become their practice of routinely delaying nominees’ votes. Since 2009, only five of President Obama’s judicial nominees had been allowed to have their committee votes cast without delay. Gordon urged the Senators to forgo this obstruction, especially given the enormous caseload in Arizona that is impeding the operation of the Arizona district court that has 6 of its 13 seats vacant. 

Yesterday, in a departure from their practice, the Committee actually voted on the nominees. 91. 5 KJAZZ reported:

“The liberal advocacy group People for the American Way called this a step toward fixing the judicial vacancy rate in Arizona, but noted that there are 28 people awaiting confirmation ahead of these nominees.”

Executive vice president Marge Baker also commented on the turn of events in an interview with Cronkite News:

“It wasn’t sustainable to keep delaying this process, and it seems that Arizona senators finally heeded reason. Arizona has had a terrible judicial vacancy rate. This is an important step towards fixing it.”

This was a relief for the state of Arizona, as well as a nice change of pace for Senate Republicans. But as a judicial vacancy crisis continues in Arizona and across the country, the work is far from over.

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Flake and McCain's Next Steps for AZ Nominees

Will Arizona's senators try to convince their GOP colleagues to eliminate the bottleneck of stalled nominees who are ahead of six Arizona nominees?
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Grassley Says Every Senator Has Right to Vote on Nominees He Filibustered

After trying to block the Senate from holding confirmation votes, Grassley says each senator had a right to a recorded vote on those nominees.
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Reid Calls Out Republicans on Obstruction of Judicial Nominees

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) responded to Sen. Chuck Grassley’s (R-Iowa) absurd claim that this Congress has done well in confirming judicial nominees. In fact, Republicans have not consented to even one judicial confirmation vote since November. The few votes that have been held since then have been over GOP filibusters. Unfortunately, Senate rules allow them to demand hours of needless “post cloture debate” after every cloture vote, so it could take weeks and weeks of Senate floor time to get through all the nominees waiting for a simple yes-or-no vote.

Reid was quick to voice that the confirmation process has been unnecessarily delayed by GOP obstruction:

Everyone knows that we are in this situation because of Republicans slow-walking every nomination—every nomination. There is no reason, no reason whatsoever that we are having votes on cloture on these judges.

“It is a waste of the taxpayers’ time to go through the process we’ve been going through.

Reid, aware of the prolonged time they will spend clearing the backlog due to these procedural delays, promised that they will get through filing cloture on all of the nominees.

If that’s what the Republicans want us to do, then that’s what we’ll do. The American people will see this colossal waste of time that we’ve been going through.

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Rubio and Sessions Can Prevent Delay of Critical 11th Circuit Vote

Get ready. There’s more Republican obstruction on the way.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a vote on 11th Circuit nominee Robin S. Rosenbaum for this Thursday, which is an important step forward in the fight to address our judicial vacancy crisis. Fully a third of the 11th Circuit’s twelve active judgeships are currently vacant, and all four of its empty slots have been declared judicial emergencies by the Administrative Offices of U.S. Courts.

The vacancy crisis in the 11th Circuit is so bad that the court’s chief judge, Edward Carnes, issued an order in December temporarily suspending the standard rule that at least two judges on a three-judge 11th Circuit panel must be members of that court. That means that going forward, two of three judges on these panels could be visiting from someplace else, potentially outvoting the one 11th Circuit judge. It is vital that Judge Rosenbaum be confirmed in a timely manner. And that starts with a timely committee vote.

But it’s unlikely that’s enough reason for GOP Senators to drop their campaign of endless delays for judicial nominations.

Republicans are expected to delay that committee vote using a procedural tactic that they have deployed against all but five of President Obama’s judicial nominees.

That is, unless Sen. Marco Rubio or Sen. Jeff Sessions steps in.

Rosenbaum is from Florida, which gives Rubio a special responsibility to urge Republican senators on the committee not to delay the vote. It is a chance for him to prioritize his constituents over politics. Similarly, Sessions, who represents a state (Alabama) covered by the 11th Circuit, also has a unique responsibility, as a member of the Judiciary Committee, to avoid such needless delay.

Will either Rubio or Sessions step up and help move the process in a more functional direction? We’ll learn on Thursday, but if past events are a predictor of future behavior, I wouldn’t hold my breath.
 

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Vander Plaats: Marriage Equality 'Runs Contrary to Liberty,' Defies Declaration of Independence

Iowa Republican gadfly Bob Vander Plaats attacked Rand Paul on yesterday’s Steve Deace program over the Kentucky senator’s silence on a federal court ruling striking down his state’s same-sex marriage ban.

Vander Plaats, head of The Family Leader, mused (probably correctly) that if Newt Gingrich were in Paul’s place, he would have called for defunding the federal district court that ruled in favor of marriage equality.

If Paul were truly “about liberty,” Vander Plaats said, he would be taking the lead to punish the Kentucky judge who struck down the marriage ban, a decision that Vander Plaats insisted “runs contrary to liberty” and defies the Declaration of Independence.

Vander Plaats:  If another good friend of ours, Newt Gingrich, was in his position from the state of Kentucky, I can almost guarantee what Newt’s response would have been. It would have been, ‘We need to defund that court, we need to defund that judge. The Congress still holds the power of the purse. If we have courts, if we have judges operating outside of their constitutional authority, let’s pull their meal ticket away.’



It’s too bad that a senator like Ted Cruz and a senator like Mike Lee have to actually step up for the state of Kentucky when their own senator, Rand Paul, should be doing that.

Deace: What should Rand be doing instead of what he is doing right now, which is basically nothing? What shouldhe be doing instead?

Vander Plaats: Well, I think one thing is that he needs to step up to the microphone. This is his state, this is Kentucky. This is something that runs totally against who he is. I mean, he’s about liberty. And if it’s about liberty, and if you have a judge usurping the will of the people of Kentucky, that runs contrary to liberty. If you believe marriage is a state rights issue and the state of Kentucky says, ‘This is what marriage is to us, one man and one woman, clearly defined,’ then you better stand up to that state rights issue. If you believe what you say you believe, that marriage is foundational and it’s between a man and a woman, which is what he says he believes, then you got to stand up for that, because that’s the law of nature, that’s the law of nature’s God, that’s the Declaration of Independence, which this whole country was founded on.
 

Senate to Vote Today on Four Federal District Court Nominees

The Senate is scheduled to vote to end filibusters and then to confirm four federal district court nominees tonight and tomorrow morning, two for the Northern District of California, one for the Eastern District of Arkansas, and one for the District of Connecticut. All four of these nominees were thoroughly vetted and approved by unanimous voice vote by the Judiciary Committee last year. They should have and could have been confirmed months ago. (In contrast, George W. Bush’s confirmed district court noms only waited about a month on average between committee approval and confirmation.) However, because of Republican obstruction, all four nominees have waited months for a simple confirmation vote. And Senate Republicans are indicating that they won’t stop their obstruction anytime soon.  In fact, it looks like they are willing to waste weeks of time in “post-cloture debate” on these and subsequent nominees.

Judge Jeffrey Alker Meyer of Connecticut has been waiting for a confirmation since he was first approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 19. Judge James Maxwell Moody, Jr., of Arkansas has been waiting since November 14. The two nominees from Northern California, Judge James Donato and Judge Beth Labson Freeman, have both been waiting since October 31st.

This frustratingly slow process is the result of layers of delaying tactics by GOP senators. Republicans refused to hold votes on these nominees for months, and now that they are being called on their obstructionism through filibuster-ending cloture votes, they’re making the votes take as long as possible by demanding that each take hours of “post-cloture debate.” This is especially ridiculous for nominees whom the Republicans actually support. Not only is this delaying confirmation of judges in these particular states; it’s also delaying nominees in other states waiting in line for their turn, including many for posts that have been deemed “judicial emergencies.” This delaying tactic from Republicans not only slows what should be a simple process, it deprives these states’ constituents the fully functioning justice system they deserve.

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Will McCain and Flake Let GOP Obstruct AZ Nominees?

Flake and McCain should not let their GOP colleagues needlessly delay a committee vote on nominees to fill six judicial emergencies in Arizona.
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Burr's Blue Slip Abuse Continues

North Carolina's Sen. Richard Burr still won't say why he is blocking Jennifer May-Parker's judicial nomination.
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Schlafly: Resist Windsor Like Dred Scott

In an interview with WorldNetDaily today, Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly compared the Supreme Court’s decision in U.S. v Windsor to the infamous Dred Scott case, arguing that the landmark marriage equality decision should not be used as legal precedent.

Attacking President Obama for his “dictatorial attitude” and “judges who think they can do anything they want,” Schlafly urged Americans to simply ignore the legal precedent set by gay rights decisions. Schlafly recalled how Republicans in the 1850s argued that the Dred Scott decision shouldn’t set a binding legal precedent. “We should reject some of these laws that try to write into the Constitution gay marriage, which is not a constitutional right,” she said.

Unfortunately for Schlafly, courts across the country are already using Windsor as precedent for striking down anti-equality laws.

Well, I’m not really a predictor, but I think the American people have got to stop this dictatorial attitude of Obama, who thinks he can do anything by executive order and the judges who think they can do anything they want by calling it a ‘living Constitution.’

Remember Abraham Lincoln, when the courts handed down probably the worst decision in history, the Dred Scott case. And Lincoln was very good, he said, well, okay, we have to accept what the court did for poor old Dred Scott but we don’t have to accept it as the law of the land, we don’t have to accept it as binding in other cases, or else we will be subservient to ‘that imperial judiciary.’ He just rejected it. And we should reject some of these laws that try to write into the Constitution gay marriage, which is not a constitutional right.

GOP Blockade of Unopposed Ark. Judicial Nominees Disrupts Local Election

Chuck Grassley tries and fails to justify his party's obstruction, which is complicating an Arkansas state judicial election.
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