Senators postpone votes on Hoosier nominees

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Thanks in part to the high-profile health-care summit today, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee postponed votes this morning on three Indiana judicial nominees and a Bloomington law professor being considered for a key Department of Justice spot.

At an executive business meeting starting at 10 a.m., the committee chair pointed out that several members were absent because of President Barack Obama's health-care summit that started at the same time. As a result, the Republican members asked that debate and votes be postponed on Jon DeGuilio for the Northern District of Indiana, and U.S. Magistrate Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson and Marion Superior Judge Tanya Walton Pratt for the Southern District of Indiana. Also postponed for later action was the nomination of Dawn Johnsen, who's been chosen to lead the DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel.

While the committee had enough members to conduct business and vote, the GOP ranking member Sen. Jeff Sessions from Alabama asked that more time be given to allow the senators attending the summit to be present to discuss the pending nominations before casting a vote.

"This is such an extraordinary circumstance, I'll accommodate that request," said committee chair Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt. "The president has asked for bipartisan support (on health care), and I hope we can also have bipartisan cooperation here."

The judges were first nominated in January and the committee brought the trio to Washington, D.C., on Feb. 11 for a hearing to field questions. That was before a weeklong President's Day break, which ended this week and gave the committee its first chance to consider each nominee for an up or down vote. Procedurally, members can automatically hold over any nomination for a week.

For Johnsen, this is the latest in a line of delays in her confirmation process that first began in February 2009, when the president nominated her for the seat. Republican committee members opposed her nomination and delayed a vote until March 2009, but conservative opposition continued and Johnsen never received a vote before the full Senate. Her nomination died at the end of the year, and the president re-nominated her in January. During the past month, a combination of factors - Republicans wanting more time, or not attending a meeting to prevent a quorum - has delayed action even longer. This was the fourth delay on Johnsen's nomination this year.

Committee staff members expect the judicial nominees and Johnsen to be placed on the Senate Judiciary's agenda for next week to consider whether to forward the nominees to the full Senate. No timeline exists for either the Judiciary or Senate votes in the confirmation process.


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  1. What Mr. Bir is paying is actually Undifferentiated Family Support, which is a mixture of child support and spousal maintenance. If the courts had labeled accurately labeled the transfer payment, I think that Mr. Bir would have fewer objections to paying it because both Spousal Maintenance and Undifferentiated Family Support are tax deductions for the paying party and taxable to the receiving party. I brought this issue up with my family court judge when my voluntarily unemployed ex-wife was using the 'child support' transfer payment to support both herself and out children. Said family court judge stated that I did not know what I was talking about because I did not have a Juris Doctorate, despite my having a printout with dictionary definitions of the legal terms that I was using for documentation.

  2. Lori, you must really love wedding cake stories like this one ... happy enuf ending for you?

  3. This new language about a warning has not been discussed at previous meetings. It's not available online. Since it must be made public knowledge before the vote, does anyone know exactly what it says? Further, this proposal was held up for 5 weeks because members Carol and Lucy insisted that all terms used be defined. So now, definitions are unnecessary and have not been inserted? Beyond these requirements, what is the logic behind giving one free pass to discriminators? Is that how laws work - break it once and that's ok? Just don't do it again? Three members of Carmel's council have done just about everything they can think of to prohibit an anti-discrimination ordinance in Carmel, much to Brainard's consternation, I'm told. These three 'want to be so careful' that they have failed to do what at least 13 other communities, including Martinsville, have already done. It's not being careful. It's standing in the way of what 60% of Carmel residents want. It's hurting CArmel in thT businesses have refused to locate because the council has not gotten with the program. And now they want to give discriminatory one free shot to do so. Unacceptable. Once three members leave the council because they lost their races, the Carmel council will have unanimous approval of the ordinance as originally drafted, not with a one free shot to discriminate freebie. That happens in January 2016. Why give a freebie when all we have to do is wait 3 months and get an ordinance with teeth from Day 1? If nothing else, can you please get s copy from Carmel and post it so we can see what else has changed in the proposal?

  4. Here is an interesting 2012 law review article for any who wish to dive deeper into this subject matter: Excerpt: "Judicial interpretation of the ADA has extended public entity liability to licensing agencies in the licensure and certification of attorneys.49 State bar examiners have the authority to conduct fitness investigations for the purpose of determining whether an applicant is a direct threat to the public.50 A “direct threat” is defined as “a significant risk to the health or safety of others that cannot be eliminated by a modification of policies, practices or procedures, or by the provision of auxiliary aids or services as provided by § 35.139.”51 However, bar examiners may not utilize generalizations or stereotypes about the applicant’s disability in concluding that an applicant is a direct threat.52"

  5. We have been on the waiting list since 2009, i was notified almost 4 months ago that we were going to start receiving payments and we still have received nothing. Every time I call I'm told I just have to wait it's in the lawyers hands. Is everyone else still waiting?