Senators seek candidate to fill Judge Barker’s vacancy

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Indiana Sens. Joe Donnelly and Dan Coats have begun the process for selecting a candidate to fill the vacancy coming to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.

The vacancy is being created by Judge Sarah Evans Barker’s decision to take senior status effective June 30. Barker will remain on the bench until her replacement is confirmed after which she plans to dial back her case load to 80 percent.

Donnelly, a Democrat, and Coats, a Republican, issued a joint call Monday for applications from any candidates interested in becoming a member of the federal bench. The senators want to make the process clear and transparent and ensure that all qualified individuals in the legal community who are interested in the position have the opportunity to put their name forward.

Information about the process and applications are available online at The candidates should highlight their qualifications and reason for seeking the nomination. Questions on the application are based on the U.S. Senate judicial questionnaire.   

The application deadline is 5 p.m. EDT May 12.

Both Indiana senators thanked Barker for her years as a federal judge for the Southern District.

“We have been very lucky to have the benefit of her wisdom and judgment. A Mishawaka, Ind., native, she has dedicated most of her career to government service,” Donnelly said. “In addition to her tenure on the District Court, Judge Barker served as a U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, an Assistant U.S. Attorney, and on the staff of a U.S. Senator, U.S. Senate Committee and a U.S. Representative.”

Once the applications have been submitted, Donnelly and Coats will review the candidates then make recommendations to President Barack Obama. Traditionally, the president has chosen an individual from the recommendations made by the home state senators. That individual will then undergo the Senate confirmation process.

Coats pointed out the senators’ role in the federal judicial process.

“Federal judges are appointed for life and play a crucial role in our judicial system,” Coats said. “One of my constitutionally defined duties as a Senator is to provide advice and consent to the President on federal judicial nominees, and I take this responsibility seriously.”

How long the confirmation process can take and whether anyone will be confirmed this year is unknown.

In an interview about her decision to take senior status, Barker acknowledged getting a replacement could take a long time.   

“I will stay on until my successor is appointed which I have said in private asides, given the struggles Congress has getting these judges through the pipeline, it may be the rest of my natural life that I’m sitting here having made that offer to stay until my successor’s appointed,” Barker said.



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  1. Great observation Smith. By my lights, speaking personally, they already have. They counted my religious perspective in a pro-life context as a symptom of mental illness and then violated all semblance of due process to banish me for life from the Indiana bar. The headline reveals the truth of the Hoosier elite's animus. Details here: Denied 2016 petition for cert (this time around): (“2016Pet”) Amicus brief 2016: (“2016Amici”) As many may recall, I was banned for five years for failing to "repent" of my religious views on life and the law when a bar examiner demanded it of me, resulting in a time out to reconsider my "clinging." The time out did not work, so now I am banned for life. Here is the five year time out order: Denied 2010 petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): (“2010Pet”) Read this quickly if you are going to read it, the elites will likely demand it be pulled down or pile comments on to bury it. (As they have buried me.)

  2. if the proabortion zealots and intolerant secularist anti-religious bigots keep on shutting down every hint of religious observance in american society, or attacking every ounce of respect that the state may have left for it, they may just break off their teeth.

  3. "drug dealers and traffickers need to be locked up". "we cannot afford just to continue to build prisons". "drug abuse is strangling many families and communities". "establishing more treatment and prevention programs will also be priorities". Seems to be what politicians have been saying for at least three decades now. If these are the most original thoughts these two have on the issues of drug trafficking and drug abuse, then we're no closer to solving the problem than we were back in the 90s when crack cocaine was the epidemic. We really need to begin demanding more original thought from those we elect to office. We also need to begin to accept that each of us is part of the solution to a problem that government cannot solve.

  4. What is with the bias exclusion of the only candidate that made sense, Rex Bell? The Democrat and Republican Party have created this problem, why on earth would anyone believe they are able to fix it without pushing government into matters it doesn't belong?

  5. This is what happens when daddy hands over a business to his moron son and thinks that everything will be ok. this bankruptcy is nothing more than Gary pulling the strings to never pay the creditors that he and his son have ripped off. they are scum and they know it.