Chief justice encourages end to judicial vacancies

January 3, 2011
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It’s a recurring problem and one the chief justice of the United States Supreme Court would like to see end as quickly as possible: numerous judicial vacancies.

In his annual year-end report, Chief Justice John Roberts cites these vacancies as one of the immediate obstacles in preventing the judiciary from achieving the goals spelled out in the “Strategic Plan for the Federal Judiciary.”

The chief justice is quick to point out that the judiciary respects the nomination process, but that there is a “persistent problem” in the process of filling these vacancies.

“Each political party has found it easy to turn on a dime from decrying to defending the blocking of judicial nominations, depending on their changing political fortunes,” he writes. “This has created acute difficulties for some judicial districts.”

While heartened by the recent rash of confirmations by the Senate, he urges a solution between the political parties for this recurring problem.

We saw this political battling first-hand with the nomination and eventual confirmation of Judge David F. Hamilton to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Hamilton, then a U.S. District Judge in the Southern District of Indiana, was nominated by President Barack Obama in February 2009, and was confirmed by the Senate Judiciary Committee in June 2009. But Republican members used rules to hold up a vote before the full Senate for several months before he was finally confirmed Nov. 19, 2009.  

Judge Hamilton was taking over a vacancy on the 7th Circuit left when Judge Kenneth Ripple took senior status in September 2008.

This type of delay is happening in Circuit and District courts across the country. It’s nothing new. But when these political battles or standoffs happen, they affect a lot of people. Not only do they impact the judges and court staff in these courts with the vacancies, who are forced to keep up with caseloads, but it affects those who will appear in those courts.

I don’t see an end to this any time soon, do you?

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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