Young wants to fill Indiana seats on federal courts quickly

With the deadline passed to apply for openings in the federal courts in Indiana, Sen. Todd Young’s office says it wants to move quickly to select candidates to fill the positions.

“We don’t want to be the hold up,” said Jay Kenworthy, spokesman for Young. “We want to do this as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

In February, Young put out a call for applications for the vacancies in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana’s Fort Wayne and South Bend divisions, the Southern District’s Indianapolis division as well as the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. He also took applications for U.S. Attorney and U.S. Marshal in the Northern and Southern Districts.  
The application deadline was Monday.

Kenworthy predicted the earliest a candidate could get a confirmation vote in the U.S. Senate would be this summer.

Young’s office would not disclose the number of applications it received for each position but said several qualified candidates put their names in for consideration. The freshman senator and his staff will start reviewing the materials then make a recommendation to the White House.

While the White House will nominate the individuals for the openings, Young’s office said it is consulting with the administration to ensure the best candidates are selected.

Kenworthy said for the judicial positions, Young “is looking for individuals who have the experience and background necessary to hold such a high position.” In general, Young is looking for someone “who will make Hoosiers proud to call (the individual) a U.S. Attorney or Marshall or judge.”

The office said Young, a Republican, has discussed the process with Sen. Joe Donnelly, a Democrat, and the two have “agreed to continue their cooperative relationship.” Young told his colleague he would have the opportunity to review the selections before they were sent to the White House.

One step Young will not take is convening a committee to review the applicants and make a recommendation.

Last year, former Indiana Sen. Dan Coats pushed for such a committee to help select a candidate for the seat on the 7th Circuit. He blocked former Indiana Supreme Court Justice Myra Selby, President Barack Obama’s nominee for the appellate court, by asserting since the 7th Circuit’s caseload has not exceeded the capacity of the current court, there is time to establish and involve a committee in the process.

Coats did support Obama’s pick for Southern District judge, Winfield Ong. He described Ong as well qualified and cited the need to appoint another judge because of the ongoing judicial emergency in the district.

The U.S. Court Administration listed the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana as one of 48 judicial emergencies in the country. An emergency is declared when the weighted filings exceed 600 per judgeship. Within the Southern District, the weighted filings per judgeship equals 821.
Also the Judicial Conference of the United States is set to ask the U.S. Congress to create 57 new Article III judgeships in the district and circuit courts, including a permanent Article III judgeship in the Southern District. Currently the court has four judges and two senior judges. 

According to Young’s office, the Indiana senator supports the addition of a new judge to the Southern District and has already spoken to Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Sen. Charles Grassley about it.

Congress last passed a comprehensive bill in 1990. Since then, filings in the appellate courts have grown 40 percent and filings in the district courts have increased 38 percent.

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