Where We Stand: Assessing Vacancies and Nominations in the Federal Judiciary – The Northeast

We are in the August recess, a little more than six months into the Biden Presidency. When President Biden came to office on January 20, 2021, there were 52 current and future vacancies in the federal judiciary. Since that time, an additional 73 vacancies have opened and nine nominees have been confirmed, leaving 116 vacancies pending (including future vacancies). There are currently 26 more judicial nominees pending, meaning that 22% of vacancies have nominees. In comparison, by the August recess of 2017, President Trump had nominees pending for around 20% of vacancies. Given the lull during the recess, now is a good time to look at the landscape of federal judicial nominations: vacancies open; nominations pending; prospective openings. We start with the states in the Northeast.

First Circuit

Court of Appeals

With just six active judgeships, the First Circuit is the smallest court of appeals in the nation, and the only geographically based appellate court that President Trump did not name a single judge to. The First Circuit tends to cycle between periods of significant turnover and periods of relative stability. For example, President George H.W. Bush named four judges to the court in four years in office. President Clinton then named two over eight years and President George W. Bush named just one in his eight. President Obama then replaced half the court in his two terms, followed by President Trump who named none.

Today, the court has five active judges: one appointed by Clinton; one by Bush; and three by Obama. A sixth judgeship, vacated by the death of Judge Juan Torruella last year is currently vacant, with a nominee, U.S. District Judge Gustavo Gelpi, waiting for a final confirmation vote on the Senate floor. However, a second vacancy is already teed up as the Rhode Island based Judge Ojetta Rogeriee Thompson is taking senior status on December 31, 2021. Rhode Island senators have already set up a selection process with the deadline set on August 4. This timeline could yield a new nominee by October 2021 and potentially even a confirmation by the end of the year.

More vacancies are possible this Congress. Judge Sandra Lea Lynch, appointed by President Clinton, has been eligible for senior status since 2011. Chief Judge Jeffrey Howard, the sole Republican appointee on the court, is also eligible for senior status but will likely stay active until his term as Chief concludes next year. However, even if neither moves to senior status, Biden will still have a chance to replace a third of the court.


The three judgeship District of Maine is unlikely to see much turnover this Congress, as the first judge to hit eligibility for senior status, Chief Judge Jon Levy, won’t hit it until 2024. His colleagues Nancy Torresen and Lance Walker have much longer to wait: until 2025 and 2037 respectively.


The 13-judgeship District of Massachusetts is currently three judges short, with a nominee, Judge Angel Kelley, pending to the oldest vacancy. Kelley’s nomination was the product of a January 2021 convening of a Bipartisan Advisory Committee by Massachusetts Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey. The Committee was reconvened in March to produce nominees to replace Judge William Young, who was leaving active status. Presumably, the Committee has recommended candidates to fill the remaining vacancies on the court, which means that nominees may be forthcoming in the Fall.

Of the remaining ten active judges on the court, four are already eligible for senior status and a fifth, Judge Timothy Hillman, becomes eligible next year. As such, it is possible that more vacancies could open before the end of this Congress.

New Hampshire

The District of New Hampshire currently has one vacancy, opened by Judge Paul Barbadoro’s move to senior status on March 1. So far, there has not been a public announcement from New Hampshire’s senators on the selection process, and no nomination has been made.

Puerto Rico (not technically in the Northeast but covered under the First Circuit)

The District of Puerto Rico currently has one vacancy out of seven judgeships, but two others are poised to come open. Judge Gustavo Gelpi has been named to the First Circuit and is pending confirmation, and Judge Francisco Besosa has announced his intent to take senior status on January 1, 2022. The resulting three nominations, when they come, will encompass the largest turnover on the court since 2006 when Gelpi and Besosa were appointed. The third appointee from 2006, Judge Aida Delgado-Colon, is also eligible from senior status. If she so moved, Biden would have an opportunity to name a majority of judges on the court.

Rhode Island

Like it’s counterpart in Maine, the District Court for the District of Rhode Island has three judgeships, all of whom are not eligible for senior status this Congress. As such, no vacancies are expected this Congress unless Judge Mary McElroy, a longtime public defender and Democrat named to the court by Trump, is picked to replace Thompson on the First Circuit.

Second Circuit

Court of Appeals

The Second Circuit, based in New York, is one of the most prestigious court of appeals in the federal system. The Court, which has two vacancies, is closely divided ideologically. The active judges on the court are split 7-4 in favor of the court’s conservative wing, but this is mitigated by the senior judges, who sit frequently and include many prominent liberals. Biden has already named Judge Eunice Lee to the court and both the pending vacancies have nominees: voting rights attorney Myrna Perez and Vermont Supreme Court Justice Beth Robinson.

Setting aside Lee, the active judges on the Second Circuit include five appointees of President Trump (who are all years away from senior status), Chief Judge Debra Livingston (who is expected to serve out her term as Chief until 2027); and Obama appointee Raymond Lohier (who doesn’t hit eligibility until 2030). While it would be tempting to consider Judges Jose Cabranes and Rosemary Pooler, the last remaining of nine judges appointed to the Court by Bill Clinton, as likely moves to senior status, the judges (both octagenarians) have resisted senior status for years despite being eligible to do so. A more likely candidate to move to senior status is Obama-appointee Judge Susan Carney, who hits eligibility in September 2021.


The District of Connecticut currently has three vacancies out of eight judgeships. However, unlike most other states, all of Connecticut’s vacancies have nominees: U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah Merriam; state judge Omar Williams; and federal prosecutor Sarala Nagala. The expected confirmation of the three this Fall would restore the court to a full complement of eight. However, Chief Judge Stefan Underhill is also eligible for senior status and may take it, creating an opportunity for a fourth appointment (It’s just as likely that Underhill serves out his term as Chief, which ends in 2025).

New York

One of only three states to be divided into four federal judicial districts, New York is currently bogged with a number of judicial vacancies. During the Obama Administration, Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand split up making recommendations to fill vacancies and each publicized names as they were sent to the White House. So far, Schumer has only made one district court recommendation public: voting rights attorney Dale Ho for the Southern District of New York (Ho has yet to be nominated).

Meanwhile, vacancies remain, with only the Western District of New York having a full complement of active judges. The Southern District of New York, one of the busiest courts in the country, is short four judges, with two of the vacancies dating back to 2018. The Eastern District of New York, despite having around half as many judgeships as its neighbor, also has four vacancies. The Northern District has only one vacancy, but, dating back to 2016, it’s one of the oldest vacancies in the nation.

Additionally, more vacancies may open in the coming year. Currently, three judges are eligible for senior status but have held off: Judge John Koeltl; Judge David Hurd; and Judge William Kuntz. Next year, three more become eligible: Judges Kiyo Matsumoto; Roslyn Mauskopf; and Glenn Suddaby.


Vermont is one of only three states in the country to be served by only two district court judges (Idaho and North Dakota being the others). With both of Vermont’s judges a few years from eligibility for retirement, it is unlikely that any vacancies will open on the district court this Congress.


  1. I would think either Melissa A. Long or Erin Lynch Prata on the Rhode Island Supreme Court are more likely to be chosen for the court of appeals seat over Mary S. McElroy. They are 5 – 10 years younger & with Gina Raimondo being the governor that appointed them now being in President Biden’s cabinet, she may have an outsized role in speaking up on their behalf.

    I truly hope Judges Jose Cabranes and Rosemary Pooler retire before the midterms next year. There are plenty of great, young progressive nominees who could replace them including Raheem L. Mullins on the Connecticut Supreme Court & either Melissa Murray, Dale Ho or any number of New York young progressives.

    It is disappointing to hear there has been no public start to the process of filling the New Hampshire district court seat particularly with the vacancy occurring almost six months ago & with two Democrat senators with one of them in a close re-election race next year.

    I have high hopes for the New York district court vacancies. With Senator Schumer trying to ensure of no credible primary from AOC & senator Gillibrand voting against so many Trump nominations, there should be a wealth of young liberal lawyers in New York getting nominated.


    • I think Long is the most likely choice in Rhode Island, but we ought to be able to do better than that. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse is one of the absolute best as far as advancing progressive goals in the legal realm and I expect that he will find a quality nominee here.


      • Yes I agree although I am a little worried about the nominees age. Ojetta Rogeriee Thompson was 59 years old when she was nominated & he was the senator back in 2010 as well. If its Long I will be happy as it will keep an African American on the first circuit but if its not I hope its somebody younger & even more progressive.


  2. I think that if a Senator is facing a difficult reelection, he or she would try to avoid a nominee who’d generate bad press. The Biden Administration has nominated open progressives on Circuit Court nominees, but played it safe with most District Court nominees.


  3. There needs to be complete rethinking when it comes to projecting Biden admin nominees. Biden has made it very clear to D senators that they are to prioritize public interest attorneys who are extremely underrepresented in the federal judiciary and not corporate attorneys or criminal prosecutors who are extremely overrepresented.

    I don’t think any of the traditional legal prognosticators had Eunice Lee, Myrna Perez, Veronica Rossman, or Jennifer Sung for circuit court seats, or Margaret Strickland, Jia Cobb, Tana Lin for district court nominees. This is because they had biased views about who should be selected.

    For the Lynch seat in MA, I think the most likely choice is Bessie Dewar, the MA state solicitor general. It would be both a conventional and a bold pick at once. She is a strong progressive and a member of the LGBT community, but she also was a Supreme Court clerk and has worked in the MA attorney general office for a while. I don’t see Judge Jeffrey Howard retiring anytime soon.

    For the 2nd Circuit, if Pooler retires, the real question is whether Biden and Schumer adheres to the tradition that this is an upstate seat. If he does, I think the nominee will likely be someone we have never heard of. If he doesn’t, I hope he picks a progressive academic in NYC who is willing to write extremely harsh dissents.
    Jose Cabranes has shifted from being a centrist to a right-winger in the past decade and I doubt he will retire willingly. If he does there are plenty of solid progressives that could be nominated.


    • I think you are right that most of the remaining vacant circuit court nominees will be names we are not familiar with or would have thought of for federal judges. I wish we would get names Bessie Dewar for the district court vacancies in the mean time while we wait for judge Lynch to decide if she will step down. No more nominees born in the 1960’s like Angel Kelly, the first nominee we got so far.

      I truly hope judge Pooler retires & senator Schumer does not adhere to any unwritten up state seat rule. President Trump threw out countless norms & the same needs to be done now to make sure we get the most progressive nominees in bright blue states like New York.

      Judge Cabranes has turned out to be President Clinton’s worst appellate court nominees. He is worst then Trump’s sister or any of the Republicans he appointed in the West. I truly hope President Biden gets a chance to replace him.


      • It actually could have been a lot worse with Cabranes. President Clinton seriously considered appointing him to the Supreme Court in 1994. As disappointing as Justice Breyer has been (he was a below average nomination), Cabranes would have given us a 6-3 right-wing court many years ago.

        If Cabranes were to leave the bench one way or the other or if Susan Carney retires (hopefully she will), there are several quality candidates, including several Yale Law (or UConn/QPac) faculty or at the federal defender’s office. And there is also an a good argument that CT is overrepresented (based on the proportion of cases heard from CT) in the 2nd Circuit and this seat should go back to New York.

        I would love to see Melissa Murray nominated but I think she would be a serious candidate for Manchin to torpedo. Manchin has voted against those who have ties to women’s rights or reproductive rights groups in the past. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski have voted for some of those candidates in the past, but I’m not sure they would here. I would just nominate Murray and hope for the best.


      • My god your right, can you imagine judge Cabranes on the Supreme Court instead… President Clinton actually had his heart set on Mario Cuomo for RBG seat & offered it to him TWICE. But yes you are right judge Cabranes was also under consideration along with a slew of others.

        And yea Melissa Murray would have a tough time getting confirmed to the second circuit. I would nominate her for a district court judge because she would have a better chance of getting confirmed then to the circuit court, plus I would rather see Dale Ho (A couple of years younger then Murray) or any of the countless New York Universities faculty or federal defender’s that are even younger.


      • I would just nominate Murray to the 2nd Circuit and have someone else (Dale Ho) as a backup to nominate immediately if need be. We have to be bold enough to risk getting nominees rejected. If one or two get rejected, so be it, just do it in a quick manner so you can replace them.
        Remember the Jon Michaels article where he talked about critical mass. Nominating people like Murray will make it easier to confirm nominees that may be slightly less liberal. I would keep nominating people that push the boundaries and am fine with getting a couple rejected.

        “More fervent White House support for Liu might have resulted in his being confirmed—and, just as importantly, created a counternarrative in which his jurisprudence is within the mainstream. What’s more, the confirmation of judges like Liu (and, say, Caitlan Halligan and Victoria Nourse) would have made it even harder for Senators to oppose more anodyne, center-left jurists like Merrick Garland.”



      • That’s true, appointing nominees like Melissa Murray, even if they are rejected, sets up slightly less liberal nominees to be confirmed easier. I would have to say the cut off for that strategy would need to be around next June. Anything later then that & you run the risk of Democrats losing the senate then having to negotiate with a Republicans senate to get a nominee confirmed. President Biden should really be going bold on his nominees for the next 10 months or so.


  4. Here’s an article that explains why Biden’s strategy on judicial nominees is so important.

    “Biden’s nominees may open up new career trajectories for law students who didn’t view becoming a public defender as a pathway to the federal bench. Mitchell recounts that during law school, students were implicitly and explicitly taught to see a prosecutor or Big Law career as a prerequisite for a federal judgeship.”


    I have read over and over again that law professors at the top law schools have steered the best students away from public interest work. They have made it clear that if you want to be considered for a top government position or a judgeship, you need to aim to be a corporate law partner or a AUSA.

    Biden is changing the incentive structure with his selections. Being a public defender or public interest attorney is moving from being a disqualification to a mild asset. It will ensure that there will be a lot more talent going toward public interest positions. Now this does have some downsides. There are going to be some people who go into public interest work just to put it on their resume.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not sure if it’s always been private but I’m almost sure he is being vetted for nomination. For senator Schumer to make his recommendation public, it’s almost a sure thing. I wish he was nominated in the last batch where Biden only named three judges. But I would expect him to be in the next batch.

      Both New York & California needs to get moving as they have numerous vacancies. I was happy to see senators Feinstein & Padilla sent The White House some recommendations months ago so I would expect that batch in the next month or two at the latest.


  5. On the District Courts, candidates are being interviewed for a seat in Eastern Wisconsin and an announcement might be coming soon. There will be another seat in Colorado which was announced a few days ago.


    • I have little faith in senator Ron Johnson turning in his blue slip for any district court nominee that is viable for a Democrat president. I really wish chairman Durbin would just get rid of blue slips all together as Republicans did it for appeals court nominations.

      The California & New York batches of nominees should be coming by October. Also Pennsylvania has a long history of those senators working in a bi-partisan fashion so we should be getting those nominees in the next couple months as well & I would expect at least one Republican in that batch.

      Ohio will probably have a batch in that time as well but I wouldn’t expect any progressives nominees unless it’s offset by a Republican as a package deal, most likely we will only get left of center or moderates at best.

      I’m not sure what’s taking Minnesota, Nevada, Massachusetts, Georgia or the second DC Circuit nominations so long.


  6. There are negotiations for a vacancy in U.S. District Court for Idaho. The state’s two U.S. Senators, both Republicans, are vetting a list which hasn’t been made public. It’s noteworthy that Senator Mike Crapo is well-liked by most Democratic Senators. Idaho state Democrats put together their own list and presented it to Crapo’s staff. They had a pleasant enough chat, but no choice has been made.

    One name to watch is Wendy Olson, who was U.S. Attorney for Idaho during the Obama Administration. She was confirmed unanimously to that job in 2010.


    • Thank you for the link Mitch…

      Idaho’s two Republican senators are fair relatively speaking to any other state with two Republican senators. They worked with President Obama to nominate David Nye & when he never received a vote they told President Trump to renominate him even though they could have easily gotten a much younger nominee then him who was born 1952. I think with Idaho only having two district court judges, we should be able to get a nominee confirmed as I don’t see them wanting to keep half the court seats vacant for 4 years.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I took a look at the four recommendations for the Wisconsin district court vacancy.

      William S. Pocan appears to be born around 1959. I see no way President Biden nominating a nominee in his 60’s.

      Tammy Jo Hock looks to be born around 1965.

      Thomas J. Walsh appears to be born in 1967.

      Krista Ann Halla-Valdes was born around 1970 & is a federal defender. I would guess she will be the nominee as she is clearly the best choice out of these four in my opinion.


      • I expect Halla-Valdes to be the nominee unless she is a Republican/conservative. She has two donations to the DCCC, so that’s unlikely but who knows. Yes, there are a few public defenders who are Republicans. Halla-Valdes appears to be from the Miami area, and is possibly Hispanic (can’t entirely tell from her picture). It appears her husband is a public defender with the state, and donated $100 to the DCCC.

        Ron Johnson is a thug, and his lack of blue slip should not be honored by Durbin. Same with Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, or any other scumbag who supported or downplayed the January 6th insurrection. I would get rid of blue slips in general or at least return to the rule that you only need one blue slip.


  7. Here is an observation on an earlier nomination. Some were wondering about the nomination of David Estudillo for Western Washington state, me included.

    On paper, House members have no say on judicial nominations. In practice, they do under certain circumstances. Newhouse is friendly with both Democratic Senators and risked his career by voting to impeach Donald Trump. When I learned of this, it explained a lot. This sort of thing happens with every Administration.


    • I for one was VERY upset David Estudillo was nominated when I found out he was either a Republican or at best, paling around with the Republican party. I respect Representative Dan Newhouse for his tough vote so if he recommended judge Estudillo, I would have probably told him we could nominate him if any of the two active GW Bush appointees on the court retired. But it’s a hard pill to swallow that we have a Republican nominee for one of the 5 vacancies on the court even if he is a RINO.


      • I would have told him that where he could stuff his nomination. I don’t care that he voted to impeach Trump, he will get Democratic votes in his district for reelection (in the top 2 system they have in WA state) for that vote. I think there’s a chance he survives between incumbency and Democratic votes, Trump won the district 58-40.

        Estudillo is not a RINO and he is not even a moderate. He is also from Eastern Washington. It was the worst Biden nominee so far (and I have much stronger words for it frankly), even worse than Margaret O’Hearn. I would rather have an empty seat here than Estudillo. There are a wealth of liberal lawyers in E Wash, including failed Obama nominee J Michael Diaz, born in 1974. He was an AUSA but primarily prosecuted civil rights cases.


      • I’m with you Shawn. I was hoping judge Estudillo was a RINO since he was nominated to his current state judgeship by governor Inslee but I have not been able to find any material to show me he is.

        I would have told Representative Newsome he can have some say over the US attorney’s, US Marshals or worked with the governor to consider about appointing judge Estudillo to the Washington supreme court but we just can’t waste a life time appointment to a 7 judge district court. If he really pushed for his to be on the district court I would have told him not for any current vacancy. Maybe I would consider it if either of the 2 GW Bush appointees, either Chief justice Martinez or Quincy Jones brother retires.

        As for the Wisconsin vacancy, Krista Ann Halla-Valdes is the youngest of the recommendations, a women, a minority & a federal defender. If she isn’t chosen out of the 4 recommended I would be floored.

        In Idaho, Wendy Olson was born around 1964. Normally I would be upset at a nominee that old but given that it’s Idaho & that the Republicans senators convinced Trump to renominate David Nye born in 1952, in this case that would be acceptable in my view.

        The Georgia commission from the link you sent is phenomenal. I’m confident we should get a good batch of nominees with them on the commission.


      • Aside from the fact that David Estudillo is a Republican, I don’t understand why he was nominated to the Western District when he’s from Eastern Washington and there is literally an E.D. of WA court. He’s also relatively young (born 1973) so we will have to deal with him for a while maybe even as Chief Judge of the court. Hopefully he is never elevated….

        because he must know how to impress Democrats in interviews or something. First nominated by Inslee and now Biden. He has this charm with Democrats for some reason that is just odd


      • Hi Delco,

        Yes very unfortunately judge Estudillo was nominated. He was an immigration lawyer so I am hoping we are all just missing something & at the very least he is a moderate Republican in the mold of the governors of Massachusetts , Vermont or Maryland.

        He will likely be chief judge relatively quickly because the Western district only has two active judges who are both over 70 years old & senator Schumer has already filed for cloture for judge Estudillo & hasn’t done so for the other two nominees yet. So judge Estudillo will be the first of the Biden nominees to be elevated to chief judge.

        And yes he is from the Eastern district but nominated to the Western district. The Eastern district only has one female judge & she is the one that is retiring. None of the other male judges are eligible for retirement until around 2028 so no way a state with two female US senators & a president that over 70% of his nominees are women would want to have half of the district courts in the state go from having a women to having no women.

        Mary K. Dimke was nominated earlier this month to the Eastern district. She is in her early 40’s & should serve for decades.


    • I saw a comment elsewhere in this set of blogs that I think explains why Estudillo was picked. He’s part of a “batch” of nominees along with progressive Tana Lin. I think this was done to persuade a specific Senator (namely Joe Manchin) to agree to confirm Lin. I think the Republicans know this is a plot because 41 Republicans voted against confirming Estudillo.


      • I don’t understand the thinking behind a package deal in a state with two Democrat senators. I don’t see senator Manchin voting against too many district court nominees of either party even when they are extreme. Also there have been more liberal nominees nominated already plus some of the Chuck Schumer recommendations make Tana Lin look like the president of The Federalist Society.

        At the end of the day under NO circumstances should we be nominating Republicans to states with two Democrat senators. I’m hard pressed to say even a moderate like Christine O’Hearn (NJ) should be nominated, let alone a Republican. I would have rather have Washington nominate a a liberal & two left of center Democrats but a Republican simply should not be in the equation. They could have just let Trump fill that seat instead of holding it open if that was the case.


  8. Pingback: Where We Stand: Assessing Vacancies and Nominations in the Federal Judiciary – The Atlantic Coast | The Vetting Room

  9. There are two vacancies in Kansas (one Circuit, one District). The Circuit Judge is Mary Beck Briscoe, a Clinton appointee. Briscoe is the first woman to serve as Federal Circuit Judge from Kansas. The District Judge is Julie Robertson, appointed by Bush Jr on Sam Brownback’s recommendation. Robertson is the first African-American woman to be a Federal Judge from Kansas. But Robertson has made some surprising rulings.

    I don’t know if anyone’s applied or how far along negotiations between the White House and two Senators have gone.

    One name to watch is Jacy Hurst, the first African-American woman to serve on the Kansas Court of Appeals. She specialized in medical compliance law while in private practice. She’d seem an obvious choice, but she’s only been a judge for ten days.

    Another name is Public Defender Carl Folsom, who was nominated for the Kansas Court of Appeals but rejected by the state Senate. One reason he was rejected is that he had some repulsive clients. But didn’t someone have to represent them?

    I would not be surprised if one of those judgeships were to be left vacant for a while so that Hurst could get some judicial more experience under her belt. To take another judgeship now after Governor Laura Kelly just appointed her would look opportunistic.


    • I don’t know much about the options in Kansas but with Democrat Governor Laura Kelly, I am sure there are a few good state court judges that would be acceptable to both Republican senators.

      Jacy Hurst is a young option born in the early 1980’s so she would be a good option.

      Carl Adrian Folsom, III is a couple years younger but sounds like a better option with him being a federal defender. But if he had issues with getting confirmed to the Court of Appeals there may be some push back.

      Kansas supreme court justice Keynen Jae Wall I would think is being looked at for one of the vacancies.


    • Carl Folsom looks like a decent choice for the 10th Circuit seat. Another who would be a good selection is the Kansas FPD appellate chief Daniel T. Hansmeier, who unanimously won a case at the Supreme Court as a public defender.

      However the 10th Circuit only has 3 other women out of 12 seats.
      So I would suggest the dean of Washburn Law School, Carla Pratt as a potential candidate for the 10th Circuit. Pratt is African American and Native American, and has served as a justice on a tribal Supreme Court. The one downside is that she appears to be 54, seems to have a birthdate in 1967.

      For the district court vacancy, there are a couple younger AFPDs who could be considered, Chekasha Ramsey and Laquesha Ross. My personal choice would Lauren Bonds, the former Kansas ACLU legal director who is now the legal director of the National Police Accountability Program. She is very young (born in 1987) and very liberal, but unlike several Trump nominees who were equally young, she is actually qualified.

      There should be zero negotiations with Roger Marshall, who was involved in supporting Trump’s attempt to overturn the election. Durbin should ignore any blue slip rejections from Marshall. Durbin has also said that he will take a harder line with blue slip rejections of nominees of color, especially women of color. If Senator Moran causes problems, his view should also be ignored.


      • I believe if pushed, Durbin would eventually get rid of blue slips all together. I would actually take your approach you wrote about in an earlier thread in states like Kansas. Biden should threaten to nominate the youngest & most liberal nominee he can find. When senators Marshall & Moran refuse to turn in their blue slips, he should immediately threaten the second candidate in that category.

        Here’s my assessment of some of the names you mentioned;

        Daniel T. Hansmeier – Born around 1979 but I can’t find him admitted to the bar in Kansas. His profile only shows Illinois, Georgia & Minnesota. But if I’m missing Kansas then sure, good choice.

        Carla Pratt I would save as a 4th or 5th choice if blue slips become an issue for younger choices.

        Chekasha Ramsey was born on 02/02/1977 so she is a good choice.

        Laquesha Ross was born around 1982 so even better choice.

        I absolutely love the Lauren Bonds choice. I would use her for the first bite at the apple to set up the second & third choice if Durbin adheres to the blue slip tradition initially. And if they refuse to turn in their blue slips I would just nominate another choice & then nominate Bonds to the appeals court.


  10. I am surprised that Dan Hansmeier isn’t part of the bar in Kansas, as he has been the Appeals Chief for the FPD of the Kansas district for the past 5+ years.

    I don’t think Lauren Bonds is really ready to be on the 10th Circuit. I’m certain she would get a “not qualified” from the ABA for that court.
    I wouldn’t mind threatening to appoint her there as a way to make Moran submit a blue slip (as I said above I could care less about RogerMarshall), but I think it should be part of a push to appoint her to the district court vacancy.


    • I’m not sure how it’s possible Dan Hansmeier could be doing that for the past 5 years without being admitted in the Kansas bar so I will assume the profile must not be up to date.

      Mitch McConnell didn’t care when the ABA deemed 10 Trump nominees not qualified so I would say senator Schumer should continue that practice. I know it is harder in a 50/50 senate versus a 53-47 senate but as long as there is a back up nominee already vetted & ready to go, I would say give it a try as long as it’s before next April. Anything after that & you run the risk of not being able to get the back up nominee confirmed before a possible loss of the senate majority.


      • Technically it is possible that Hansmeier is not a member of the Kansas bar, since he only has to be admitted to the federal district of Kansas and the 10th Circuit court to practice there. It would be surprising for someone to not be part of the state bar there, but not impossible.

        The problem is that the combination that Bonds is very liberal (she makes Myrna Perez, Jennifer Sung, and Jia Cobb look like moderates), her age, and a not qualified rating for the 10th Circuit would likely cost you Manchin’s vote. I guess that you could nominate her anyway but it would be solely to push the boundaries on what is possible rather than actually getting a confirmation.


  11. Schumer is recommending 3 more quality progressives to district courts in NY.

    Jessica Clarke is a fantastic choice. Nina Morrison is a bit too old at 51. Nursat Choudhury is a great choice, but I would rather see her nominated in Illinois. There are many many good choices who work in NYC. We should be nominating NYC public interest attorneys in other parts of the country that the nominee has ties, not the other way around.



    • Thank you for the article. I was looking to see who senator Schumer’s additional recommendations were. With a possible AOC primary breathing down his back (I don’t think she will really do it but I’m happy for her as it is moving Schumer to the left), I expect the trend of really good choices to continue. By the way where is senator Gillibrand at when it comes to recommendations? I only see Schumer recommending nominees.

      Nusrat Choudhury (1977) – Bangladeshi American and the second Muslim American, young & legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union. Great choice.

      Jessica Clarke (1982) – Strong record in civil rights, on enforcing fair housing laws, ensuring students’ equal access to education, and addressing police reform. Absolutely spectacular choice. Both her & Dale Ho would have been better choices then Eunice C. Lee for the 2nd circuit.

      Nina Morrison (1970) – Very good choice with her background working at the Innocence Project. If she was younger like the other two recommendations I would have said great choice but still I have no issue with her being 51 since she has a proven progressive record.


  12. Apparently both Judges Jose Cabranes and Rosemary Pooler are ready to take senior status, giving Biden two additional appointments in the 2nd Circuit. David Lat mentions many names in this thread as well as geographical issues regarding the successors.

    My view is that CT already has too many judges on the 2nd Circ given the number of cases that come from CT. Given that I would move the CT seat to NYC. One excellent choice here is Cristina Rodriguez, whether it stays in CT or goes to NYC. Another option is Dale Ho.

    The other question is whether the Pooler seat stays as an upstate seat. If it stays upstate, then we are looking at people you haven’t heard of.


    • This is absolutely GREAT news. As mentioned in earlier threads I believe Dale Ho should have been an appeals court nominee (Either second circuit or DC circuit) & I still feel the same. As I mentioned earlier there should be no “upstate seat” as Mitch McConnel threw out all norms when he was in power & senator Schumer should respond in kind, particularly in his home state.

      As also mentioned in an earlier thread I would consider Melissa Murray. I know you feel she would not get senator Manchin’s vote but I think its worth the fight plus it’s early enough so if she’s not confirmed, you could have a back up nominee ready to go & immediately nominate if she doesn’t make it through.

      I would assume Raheem L. Mullins would be the front runner however I’m sure CT has plenty of highly qualified nominees I haven’t heard of. With Biden not nominating any black men to the appeals court in his first 13 nominations, I would hope he is the pick.

      Either way this is absolutely spectacular news as I was hoping both of these judges would retire in Biden’s first year.


      • I would consider nominating Murray immediately (by December 1) for the Cabranes seat for the with someone immediately as a back up. I’m almost certain that Manchin would be a no on Murray (Manchin has voted no on Dem nominees who seem too overtly pro-choice), but there is a legitimate chance that Murkowski and/or Collins vote yes on her.


      • I don’t know if the CT senators would to moving their appeals court seat back to NY (In a 50/50 senate any one senator has veto power) but if either Dale Ho or Melissa Murray has ties to CT then I would push that. I would pick Dale Ho over Murray if there’s only one NY seat as he is already vetted, a couple years younger plus a strong candidate for the first AAPI Supreme Court justice should Biden get a second vacancy. But I would definitely nominate Murray to backfill Ho’s district court seat or any of the other vacancies in NY.


      • If you read the David Lat thread, the Cabranes seat is actually traditionally a NY seat, and Cabranes was allowed because he grew up in NYC. (Also likely because he would be the first Hispanic in that Circuit).

        So I think Schumer will demand a NYC nominee for that seat. Or Cristina Rodriguez, who has ties to both NYC and is a Yale Law professor.


      • This shall be interesting. I think when it’s all said & done the seat will remain in CT jurisdiction though. Either way both states have done a great job so far in recommendations for judicial nominees (I would put NY first & CT third with New Mexico second so far) so I trust either states senators to get really good nominees. As long as the seat doesn’t’ get moved to New Jersey where I don’t trust those two senators to pick what I’m gonna eat for dinner, let alone judicial nominees… Haaaa


      • I think Schumer will demand that this is a NY seat. And frankly I doubt the CT senators (who are loyal party line people in a safe state) are really going to fight it.

        As far as New Jersey, Robert Menendez is the big reason why we get such shitty nominees there. Menendez should be inmate in a federal prison, not in the US Senate.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I would be beyond joyed if the seat were transferred back to NY. That would guarantee a NYC area nominee even if they keep the other seat as an “upstate seat”…

        And yea Senator Mendez is atrocious at picking judicial nominees. With the two vacant seats left in NJ I would almost say leave them vacant if he can’t find a way to recommend somebody at least half way decent.


      • One option as a back up to Murray, Ria Tabacco Mar, who was on your list on the other thread. Another women’s rights attorney (actually holds the same position that Ruth Bader Ginsburg did 50 years ago). But less outspoken than Murray, younger, and LGBT. Probably less likely to be tanked by Manchin.

        Regardless Mar should be given a district court appointment.


      • Oh yes, Ria Tabacco Mar the Director of the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project from the ACLU born around 1983. I mentioned her earlier as a district court possibility but would have no problem with her being on the appeals court albeit Dale Ho is still my first choice. I doubt Mar, Ho or Murray would differ much on actual decisions so any of the three would be good.


      • One name I would probably put ahead of Dale Ho for the appeals court in New York is a name I got from you earlier this year but you mentioned him for Puerto Rico. Adriel I. Cepeda Derieux born around 1984 is a senior staff attorney in the ACLU Voting Rights Project. I looked him up & the only Bar I could find him admitted in was New York.

        He should be recommended for any of the district court vacancies if not the appeals court. Hopefully he applied.


    • Alison Nathan (from Manhattan) was picked for the Pooler seat, so not staying upstate. Perhaps Biden will nominate an upstate NY nominee for the Cabranes seat. Ideally Biden should have named nominees for the Pooler and Cabranes seat at the same time, because if one nominee is confirmed first, their predecessor could hold off going senior until the other nominee is also confirmed.


      • I argued in one of the earlier post I did not believe there was any upstate seat after Trump named all NYC nominees & disrupted all other norms.

        Also as mentioned in earlier post I see no way any state with at least one Democrat senator will lose an appeals court seat in a 50/50 senate.

        I would expect Connecticut to have two nominees. Ideally my choices would be Raheem L. Mullins & Joshua Perry but I’m sure there are plenty of other nominees that are just as good or even better.


  13. Hello, this is my first post.

    With the announcement of the retirement of Judge Susan Carney of Connecticut, do you think that the Senators from that state will get two nominations? I was reading, some feel one seat should go back to New York. If they do nominate, who are some likely candidates?


  14. 3 Biden judges & 3 pending vacancies on the 2nd circuit. Assuming Biden fills all of those seats, basically the entire 2nd circuit will have been replaced in 5 years, with half of the court being Biden-appointed (6/13) and half Trump-appointed (5/13). The other 2 judges are appointees of GW Bush and Obama and not yet eligible to go senior, so we’re pretty much maxed out for potential vacancies on the 2nd circuit.


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