While the Biden Administration has moved relatively quickly to line up judicial nominees, they have generally focused on states with two Democratic senators, avoiding Republican blue slips. As such, the nomination of Andre Mathis to the Sixth Circuit, coming over the objections of Tennessee’s Republican senators, is the first Biden nominee not to have the support of his home-state senators.
Born in 1980, Andre Bernard Mathis received a B.A. from the University of Memphis in 2003 and a J.D. from the Cecil D. Humphreys School of Law in 2007 before joining Glankler Brown in Memphis as an Associate. Mathis currently serves as a Partner in the Memphis office of Butler Snow.
History of the Seat
Mathis has been nominated for a Tennessee seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. This seat opened in May 2021 with Judge Bernice Donald’s announcement that she would move to senior status upon confirmation of her successor. Mathis was nominated on November 17, 2021. Shortly after Mathis’ nomination, Tennessee Senators Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty released a statement expressing disappointment with the White House’s level of consultation on the nomination, and Hagerty has indicated his unwillingness to return a blue slip on Mathis.
Mathis has practiced law for around fourteen years, starting with his time as an associate at Glankler Brown and including his current position as partner at Butler Snow LLP. Throughout his career, Mathis has focused on commercial litigation, as well as labor and employment work, but has also maintained a significant pro bono profile, particularly in working with the Tennessee Innocence Project.
Mathis has primarily focused on commercial and employment litigation. For example, early in his career, Mathis represented a dismissed Ford employee in a discrimination lawsuit after his termination. See Longs v. Ford Motor Co., 647 F. Supp. 2d 919 (W.D. Tenn. 2009). He also defended a paper company against a tort lawsuit brought by a plaintiff who fell while making a delivery to a paper mill. Sheffield v. Int’l Paper Co., 443 F. Supp. 3d (W.D. Tenn. 2020). Judge Jon McCalla denied the defendant’s motion for summary judgment in the case, finding that there was a genuine dispute of material facts regarding the company’s maintenance of a crumbling curb. See id. at 951.
On the criminal side, Mathis represented Tremaine Wilbourn, who was charged with shooting and killing a Memphis police officer in 2015. See Adrian Sainz, Man Sentenced to 25 Years in Tennessee Officer Shooting, A.P. State & Local, July 28, 2017. Wilbourn ended up pleading guilty and receiving a 25 year sentence. See id. He also represented Robert Kimbrel, a convicted felon, in challenging his sentence under a 2255 motion (which allows a collateral attack in federal court on a sentence or conviction), which was granted by Judge Jon McCalla. Kimbrel v. Batts, 196 F. Supp. 3d 811 (W.D. Tenn. 2016).
Statements and Writings
Like a number of other judicial nominees, Mathis wrote on the law as a law student. For example, Mathis authored a comment discussing the Tennessee Supreme Court’s State v. Sawyer decision, which prevented a police officer from reading an affidavit during a custodial interrogation without a Miranda warning. See Andre Mathis, Criminal Law – State v. Sawyer: Tennessee Supreme Court Holds That a Police Officer Cannot Read an Affidavit to a Person in Custody Without Giving Miranda Warnings, 36 U. Mem. L. Rev. 1171 (Summer 2006). In the comment, Mathis praised the Tennessee Supreme Court’s conclusion that reading an affidavit of complaint can, under the circumstances of the case, be the equivalent of a “custodial interrogation” that triggers Miranda. Id. at 1183. Mathis further urged courts to “expand the scope of constitutional rights of persons in police custody” while noting that the coercive nature of police interrogations can lead innocent individuals to “concede their innocence.” Id.
In another law school note, Mathis analyzed the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in House v. Bell, which allowed a Tennessee death row inmate to pursue a claim of actual innocence using DNA evidence. See Andre Mathis, A Critical Analysis of Actual Innocence After House v. Bell: Has the Riddle of Actual Innocence Finally Been Solved?, 37 U. Mem. L. Rev. 813 (Summer 2007). While Mathis acknowledged that the Supreme Court reached the correct conclusion in Bell, he criticized the decision for failing to provide adequate guidance to lower courts in future claims of “actual innocence.” See id. at 837.
Going back to the revival of the blue slip under Sen. James Eastland, we have been unable to find a Democratic judicial nominee to be confirmed over the refusal of both Republican Senators to return blue slips. However, with the jettisoning of the appellate blue slip under President Trump, Mathis looks favored to be the first. The question for Democrats is whether they can keep their caucus united behind Mathis. Assuming that they hold together, Mathis will likely be confirmed.
A fine nominee, particularly in light of his age. This should be the role model for other Circuit nominations, including red state seats.
I absolutely agree & love this pick for numerous reasons. I know some say this is only a good pick because it’s in a red state, but I disagree. This would be a good pick anywhere.
He is Biden’s first black man nominated to the court of appeals. He is 41 years old & has a progressive background as a member of the Criminal Justice Act Panel & a pro bono attorney for the Tennessee Innocence Project. This should absolutely be the model for appeals court nominees for red or purples states with the exception of those states that have Republicans willing to work in good faith.
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“I know some say this is only a good pick because it’s in a red state, but I disagree. This would be a good pick anywhere.”
I very strongly disagree with statement! Andre Mathis is a corporate lawyer who has long history defending corporations in employment and civil rights cases. Basically defending corporations who were being sued for racial and gender discrimination, union busting, and class action lawsuits. He didn’t just do this for a few years to pay off law school bills, but has made a career of it.
We need far fewer of those kinds of attorneys on the bench. This is the same reason why we considered Margaret O’Hearn a complete disaster! I agree that he does some progressive credentials unlike O’Hearn, and it is in Memphis, which is why I gave the pick a B-. I do prefer Mathis to someone like Camille McMullen or Edward Stanton.
If Mathis was nominated in NYC or California, this would be a clear D or F. He’s worse than Gabriel Sanchez (who would be a lot more tolerable if he wasn’t in the Bay Area).
Here’s an example of the prototype we should be looking for going forward even in red states. Jasmine Bolton is too young now, but in a decade she would be a fantastic nominee.
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While I haven’t reviewed Mathis record completely, I have reviewed it thoroughly & I am seeing at every step him defending poor, black/brown & under privileged defendants. Even if you just take this article alone, in the “Legal Experience” & “Statements and Writings” sections, it appears Mathis was even defending defense side clients, both for the firm & pro bono when he was a law firm partner.
I’m not saying he never defended business side defendants, but when you have a long progressive track record, even while simultaneously defending businesses, I don’t put that anywhere near the same category as Christine O’Hearn.
I would not be in favor of disqualifying a nominee because they chose to work at a big law firm. Like it has been mentioned before, we would have no Sonia Sotomayor. I guess my question in these cases would be if you took off the nominee working for a big law firm & took everything else into account, what would your opinion of the nominee be then. To me, a 41-year-old Mathis would be a solid pick considering the rest of his resume.
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I think Shawn’s critique is generally a fair one. He (assuming “he” is appropriate here…) didn’t say that big law firm service by itself was disqualifying or a serious demerit. Rather, he focused on the specific type of corporate law work Mathis does. And it’s true, both from this post and from his firm bio, that Mathis spends his time mostly (but not exclusively) defending corporations, local gov’t bodies, property owners, and insurers, etc. against individual plaintiffs in tort and employment cases. Again, I think it’s fair to note that less-than-desirable aspect of his background even if—as Shawn readily acknowledges—Mathis is good and progressive in other areas like criminal justice.
The comparison to Sotomayor doesn’t really hold water IMHO. While she also spent time at a big firm, the actual contents of her work there was quite different—mainly IP litigation. That’s obviously a distinct area of corporate law that doesn’t raise many (or any) of the same issues as employment and tort defense.
You also have to look at the realpolitik. Given the tenuous nature of Ds’ Senate coalition overall, and the prospects of getting zero R votes for this particular nomination, a guy like Mathis is probably the best candidate who can still be palatable to the likes of SineManchin.
Take a good look at Butler Snow’s Employment and Labor group, which is Mathis is a part of.
Here’s some of the wonderful stuff there. I think this it is a fair question to ask whether a Democratic President (especially one who campaigned on being a pro-union President) should ever nominate people who engage in this kind of behavior. They don’t even write much about their record defending companies against racial and gender discrimination lawsuits.
In the Union Avoidance Section
“Union organizing campaigns can be disruptive, costly and time consuming. We recognize employers would prefer to avoid a union campaign altogether. Our attorneys are skilled in conducting labor assessments, both periodically and in special situations where employers confront heightened risks due to reorganizations, mergers, closures, outsourcing, reductions in force and introductions of new operating methods and human resources policies. We conduct preventive labor relations training for all levels of leaders. By educating our clients how to recognize and legally and effectively respond to union organizing activity, we are often able to stop campaigns before a petition for an election is filed.
We use our expertise to attempt to stop the campaign at its earliest point. For one of our clients in the forest products industry we were able to terminate the campaign after the initial hearing before the NLRB. ”
I will refer you back to this visionary article in 2019. Fallon and Kang write:
“But our point is not that corporate lawyers are incapable of becoming fair-minded judges. A judge’s legal background is not inherently predictive of how she will rule. Sotomayor herself is proof of that; so, too, is Jon Tigar, a former corporate lawyer who now sits on the federal bench in San Francisco and whom Trump derided as “an Obama judge” following Tigar’s ruling to temporarily block Trump’s asylum ban.
Our point, rather, is that the federal bench is already filled with enough corporate lawyers, and that the law is being skewed in favor of corporations, giving them astonishing power. And for all the examples of progressive judges who spent time in Big Law, there are many more brilliant legal minds whose backgrounds too often, perversely, prevented their consideration for the bench. There are plenty enough highly qualified individuals with other backgrounds—civil-rights litigators, public defenders, and legal-aid lawyers—that the next president can afford to make identifying new types of candidates a priority.”
I’m not saying that all corporate lawyers should be disqualified or other evidence of progressive work should be ignored. But if you spend considerable time defending corporate interests on civil rights/employment cases and engage in union busting, yeah you should disqualified in a Democratic administration. I would give a pass to doing it a few years early on to pay off law school debts, but corporate law partners shouldn’t get a pass on this kind of stuff. And using pro bono work to cover up this kind of stuff isn’t good enough either.
Also saying that if we disqualified corporate law partners, we would have no Sotomayor isn’t really relevant. Hugo Black, a KKK member, turned out to be a largely progressive Supreme Court Justice. Should we not ban KKK members from the bench because of that?
That said it is difficult to find high quality candidates for the 6th Circuit in the Memphis area. While I think there were better candidates than Andre Mathis, he’s got some progressive credentials (unlike Stanton and McMullen) and is a slightly above average selection for the Memphis area. But to say that this would be a good pick in NYC or California is simply not true.
I read through Butler Snow’s Employment and Labor group but I do not think the firms view automatically means Mr. Mathis agrees with it in full, if at all. If he has writings or speeches stating his agreement then I would agree he is not a good candidate. But I think it’s more likely then not he has nothing documented stating his agreement with their company position on that manner. Remember you have stated on numerous occasions just because somebody is a member or on the home page of The Federalist Society, that doesn’t mean they are conservative. I don’t think it would be consistent to have that view, yet hold Mr. Mathis to the views of his law firm if he hasn’t publicly advocated those views. If he defended a client with those views I also do not think that he should be held to his clients views no more then progressives should be when Republicans on the judiciary committee question them for the same advocacy.
As for the article from Fallon and Kang (In full disclosure I am affiliated with Demand Justice), I actually agree with MOST of the points made in it. Where I would differ is the lawyers mentioned in the article such as Neal Katyal, while highly qualified, has nowhere near the progressive background as Mr. Mathis. So I would not put them in the same basket.
As for the Hugo Black reference, you are right. Had I been a senator back in the mid 1930’s I would have voted against him & I would have been wrong as he turned out as one of the most progressive justices of the New Deal era. But I would still exclude nominees from groups like the KKK because their group is rooted in ideals completely opposite of the Democrat Party’s ideals (White supremacy). Corporate law firms are not all aligned against the Democrat Party’s ideals so for that reason I would not automatically exclude all law firm partners solely for their affiliation.
But overall I do in general agree that a progressive non big law firm partner lawyer would probably be a better choice then a law firm partner. I just feel in the case of Mathis & Sanchez they are both good candidates with progressive backgrounds. Where I would fully agree with you at is there are PLENTY of better candidates in California & New York for then the both of them. But I still would rather Mathis & Sanchez over Koh in California if we are considering actual nominees.
Why would someone like this… be a good pick?
Mathis further urged courts to “expand the scope of constitutional rights of persons in police custody” while noting that the coercive nature of police interrogations can lead innocent individuals to “concede their innocence.” Id.
I can’t access a copy of the cited law review article, but should the second quote instead be “concede their guilt”? As it currently stands, I’m struggling to understand what the quote means.
There was a tweet on this site’s twitter account on this nomination. It said that the Senators stated they were willing to support a black nominee who is an experienced Tennessee state judge. The judge wasn’t named, but speculation focused on Camille McMullen, who has been mentioned here before.
Perhaps she will be named District Judge if a vacancy occurs for Western Tennessee. Or she could be a fallback nominee if Mathis is not confirmed.
Camille McMullen would be a good choice. They would probably go with Edward Stanton as they have a tendency to go with Obama nominees that never received a vote & at least his case he is relatively young & younger then she is by a handful of years. But neither would be a better option then a 41 year old with a progressive background.
I was finally able to pull up the cited law review article that Mathis wrote and saw that it really does have the ““concede their innocence” language. That seems like a mistake to me. For one, in common parlance, you don’t normally speak of “conceding one’s innocence.” You only concede a thing as a last resort, because that thing is unfavorable. But being innocent isn’t unfavorable, so there’s no reason to resist conceding it. Also, it doesn’t make sense in the context of the sentence from which the quote is taken, or the article generally. Both of those are about high-pressure police tactics that might lead to a false confession—not of innocence, but of guilt.
So it’s almost certainly a mistake. Is it too late to request a correction to a law review article going back more than a decade and a half? Not that it’s likely to concern anybody at his confirmation hearing, just rando anonymous blog commenters like me!
Yea I think it would be too late to correct but he can always just say he has formulated a different opinion over the past decade. Either way it did not come up in his hearing today. They focused on the blue slips issue & his license being suspended for his 3 speeding tickets also over a decade ago.
Blackburn is voting against all US Attorney nominees in committee now. She would’ve opposed any Biden nominee to the 6th circuit from Tennessee.
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Exactly. Blackburn would have returned her blue slip for Camille McMullen but voted against her on the floor. We would have ended up with her confirmed probably with 53 votes. I’ll happily take a more progressive version of her a decade younger confirmed with VP Harris breaking the tie instead.
Not that I care, but it does look like not only was there consultation with the two Republican senators from Tennessee, but Mathis even interviewed with counsel for both of them…
“On June 17, 2021, I interviewed with counsel for Senators Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty.”
The Republicans on the SJC are going absolutely berserk at Andre Mathis hearing this morning. I love how they all of a something wants blue slips back in play for circuit court nominees. Senator Durbin stood firm but offered perhaps a negotiation could be reached for the next president in 2025 after a rebalancing of the courts during the Biden administration for 4 years.
Senators Whitehouse & Blumenthal gave speeches defending the continuing of no blue slips for court of appeals nominees. Republicans were focused on Andre Mathis license being suspended over a decade ago because he received 3 speeding tickets.
The issue @Shawn brought up earlier on this post regarding anti-union statements made by Mathis was also brought up. As I suspected he stated he was making those statements on behalf of his clients.
My favorite part of the hearing was a suggestion by senator Whitehouse. He said since Republicans got rid of blue slips there is nothing stopping President Biden from getting an out of state nominee from Brooklyn or Palo Alto that is willing to move anywhere in the 6th circuit so the Tennessee senators should be happy at least this nominee is from Memphis.
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I think the committee is on recess until 1pm…..Is there tribute for Sen Reid today?…
From the parts i heard before the recess, Mr Mathis was doing a good job of being very polite considering the BS he was putting up with…..I assume after the recess Cruz & Hawley will question him
Speeding tickets, big deal…..Brett Kavnaugh was accused of alot worse, and his nomination was for highest court in land….
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Correct. After the Harry Reid memorial they will return at 1pm. So far, the only Republicans to ask questions were Grassley, Blackburn & Kennedy so I’m sure the Cruz & Hawley show will be dripping with hypocrisy on blue slips amongst other things.
One other note from the first half was senator Durbin apologizing to senator Blackburn for her not even receiving her blue ship. But he made it clear that not returning a blue slip will not stop a nominee from getting a hearing as long as there were some consultations from The White House.
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” But he made it clear that not returning a blue slip will not stop a nominee from getting a hearing as long as there were some consultations from The White House.”
This isn’t good enough. There should be ZERO consultations with people like Senator Blackburn, and especially with the senators who voted to enable the attempted coup on January 6th.
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“The issue @Shawn brought up earlier on this post regarding anti-union statements made by Mathis was also brought up. As I suspected he stated he was making those statements on behalf of his clients.”
I will reply to your detailed post above later. But regarding Mathis’ response, I ask a simple question. If a GOP nominee gave the same response regarding the anti-union garbage, would you have said it was acceptable? I wish I could say that I trust that the White House did its due diligence on vetting Mathis on this issue, but after Christine O’Hearn was introduced as a “champion for women and workers’ rights, I simply can’t.
I love Senator Whitehouse. I think he should have been Attorney General frankly.
Senator Booker told today told that The Trump White House didn’t consult him or senator Menendez until after Paul Matey was voted out of committee when he was appointed to the 3rd circuit appeals court. That’s the level of consultation that the GOP should expect.
The craziest thing from today’s hearing was when senator Hawley said senator Sullivan wants to interview ALL 9th circuit court nominees, even those not from Alaska, because their rulings will affect his state. I almost spit out water laughing.
Again, Hawley, as a J6 cheerleader, is someone who should be given less than zero consideration (including the Jesse Helms treatment on any legislation or amendment). And who cares what Sullivan asks for.
Now if Senator Murkowski made that request, I think you’d unfortunately have to ponder it (and probably let her interview every nominee) given that she votes for most of these nominees.
Yup, I agree… And senator Hawley specifically said senator Sullivan was the one requesting to meet with all 9th circuit nominees regardless of state. That is INSANE. Every Republican senator will hold up & delay even more then they already do nominees from blue states.
Um the Senators can figure things out without consultation once a nominee is nominated using a tool called Wikipedia. Their Circuit Court has a Wikipedia page and they can figure out who the nominee is by looking at their circuit’s Wikipedia page.
Do you remember which senator asked the question in the SJC Hearing regarding the anti-union comments made by Andre Mathis? I’m having trouble finding it in the SJC hearing video.
I believe it was senator Grassley. He went second right after Durbin.
The nominee that the TN senators put forth, was their nominee a decent nominee for a Democratic president, or was it a clone of the Federalist Society?…..
Camille McMullen is an African American & by all accounts a good left or center judge. But he has nowhere near the progressive background as Mathis. Plus she seems to be more then a decade older.
Looks like we have a new opening on 9th Circuit!
Spectacular news. I hope Mónica Ramírez Almadani or Victor Rodriguez will be considered. Hopefully 1, 2 or all 3 GW Bush appointees will also take senior status.
Lauren King may be getting a promotion from her District Court seat…..She’s < 40 and Native American, she'd be a very good pick in my view.
I see no chance at all that California would lose a seat. The commission on judicial review actually stated last year California needs tow additional court of appeals seats even with all of the current seats they have. I think any discussion of them losing a seat would be a non starter in caucus meetings.
I again strongly disagree with this. McKeown was appointed as a Seattle attorney for a Washington state seat. She moved to San Diego in 2004.
California may be underrepresented, but Washington having only 2 seats would be far more underrepresented. They’re losing 33% of their seats right now.
Shawn’s right. They set the precedent with another seat, when Reagan judge Stephen Trott moved from California to Idaho. Ultimately they ruled that the seat belonged to California and Obama put John B. Owens (who is not particularly liberal) in the seat 10 years later.
I wasn’t saying the seat necessarily didn’t deserve to be reverted back to Washington, I was saying it won’t be. I can almost guarantee you that seat, as every other seat will remain in the state it was in at the start of the Congress barring any change in the composition of the current 50/50 senate. I’ll definitely admit I was wrong if any seat changes but I suspect the two Connecticut, the Louisiana, the California & every other seat will not change prior to January 3, 2023. Let’s see who ends up being right.
Agree with Shawn and josir on this. Since McKeown seemed to note that she wishes the seat to return to WA, if Biden nominated someone from CA she could decide to change her mind and not take senior status. If I were Biden, I wouldn’t be taking that risk especially considering how the majority in the Senate could vanish at any second.
I actually think if judge McKeown made that threat, it would make it more likely the seat stays in California. You can’t let a retiring judge made demands about who or where their replacement is. The precedent is more important than a single seat. You would open yourself up to more issues down the line when other judges see your weak & bow down to those types of demands.
If she made that threat, then she can remain on the bench until she is 94 like Pauline Newman. Michael Stephen Kanne tried to demand Trump nominate his former law clerk & when he didn’t, he withdrew his senior status. I don’t know the reasons why Robert Bruce King withdrew last year but if I had to guess, I would say for a similar reason. If judge McKeown makes demands (Which I don’t think she will) then she will just be the third judge in the past three years to rescind.
I will stand by my prediction that barring any change in the composition of this 50/50 senate, we will be on this site a year from today with no seats moved during the first two years of Biden’s term. In particular not from a state like California that has both of its senators on the senate judiciary committee.
“If she made that threat, then she can remain on the bench until she is 94 like Pauline Newman.”
Actually what would happen is when the GOP gets the Presidency again, they will give the seat back to Washington. Basically the McKeown wouldn’t be replaced until the GOP replaces it with a Washington state Republican.
Again my strong prediction regarding this seat is that it will either be a Washington state nominee or there will not be a replacement this year.
We shall see who ends up being right. Remember I said Toby J. Heytens would get more then 3 GOP votes & everybody said no way. I was right on that & I’m more confident about this then I was about him… Lol
But I’ll keep a mental note in my memory & we will see who got it right my friend.
I’m not predicting that a Washington state nominee will be the replacement. I’m saying that if it is not, there won’t be a replacement confirmed. In fact I’d give a >80% chance right now that there will not be a replacement confirmed for this seat in 2022 because I suspect that neither Washington or California will give in.
BTW, regarding Heytens, you were equally sure that Leslie Abrams Gardner was a lock for the 11th Circuit. So it goes both ways there.
Oh yea, absolutely. I know that’s your stance. Mine is the seat will be filled & remain a California seat.
And for Leslie Abrams remember what I said was I thought she would have first right of refusal. Now the DC circuit I was wrong. I never, never, NEVER would have guessed judge Childs for the DC circuit… Lol
Gabriel Sanchez was just confirmed with the usual 3 GOP yes votes. Senator Shatz missed the vote so I’m sure they will not vote on Holly Thomas until all 50 Democrats are back in DC. Hopefully Schumer keeps the senate in session all weekend & vote on her before they take their week off for MLK holiday.
Senators need to do their job. Honestly, I don’t the Senate or House should be allowed to leave until March. This is not a part time job.
From your lips to God’s ears. I would institute a rule that Friday’s are reserved for discharge votes & DC local court votes for judges. If Republicans want to vote unanimously against a nominee or hold up local DC judges then no Friday off for that week.
I’m interested in everybody’s opinion. With M. Margaret McKeown announcing senior status, I think most of us on this site has indicated a list of nominees we would like to see with my personal favorites being either Mónica Ramírez Almadani or Victor Rodriguez
However since we all know every California nominee so far has been a sitting state court judge, I am not as well versed in who they are. In my letter to The White House early last year suggesting federal judges I actually had Holly Thomas on it but she is the only sitting California judge I had on my list. Who do you all think could be nominated if they continue with the only sitting judges theme?
My prediction right now is that this seat will NOT be filled in this Congress if the California senators do not concede it back to Washington.
Senator Murray has as much seniority as Feinstein. She’ll fight for this seat.
This is my biggest concern – if Democrats lose the Senate this fall (and it looks like they will), they won’t get it and the presidency back until probably the 2030s. Regardless of whether it’s Washington or California, this seat really needs to be filled before the midterms.
I would lean towards it going back to Washington – McKeown was a Seattle-based attorney when she was confirmed and then she moved to San Diego, and apparently the WA delegation had asked for another seat to be given to the state after she moved (https://mobile.twitter.com/fedjudges/status/1481363584651300875).
Also in terms of the Senate, Feinstein barely does her job anymore (and unfortunately does not seem to be mentally there even when she physically is: https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/dianne-feinsteins-missteps-raise-a-painful-age-question-among-senate-democrats). Padilla is the most junior member of the Senate, while Murray is a part of party leadership and Cantwell is very senior as well. It’ll probably depend on how much Murray/Cantwell will fight for the seat back, but if push comes to shove, I’d have my money on Washington’s senators being more effective advocates.
An Obama appointed judge is resigning from the 5th Circuit:
WOW… That came out of left field. He must have gotten a big time offer from a university or law firm he couldn’t pass up. I would have much rather it had been a Trump or Bush appointee but I’ll take it.
It will be worth seeing senator Cruz head explode at whoever is eventually nominated. As @Shawn has mentioned in the past with the fifth circuit lacking any Hispanic judges, I look for this unexpected vacancy to correct that.
I would just vet Nina Perales and nominate her immediately. And in the meantime find someone else (Marina Garcia Marmolejo?) as a backup. Do the very least in consulting with John Cornyn to satisfy Durbin and don’t even bother with Cruz.
I agree with you that this nominee needs to be Hispanic. We questioned if judge Costa was Hispanic a few weeks back but with him retiring that unquestionably leaves the 5th circuit without a Hispanic judge which is unacceptable in 2022. I also think the nominee might end up being Marina Garcia Marmolejo but I hope not for a couple reasons.
I think both Marina Garcia Marmolejo & Nina Perales would be great appeals court judges but they both would be older today then judge Costa was a decade ago when he was confirmed. Also in Marmolejo’s case, we would have to back fill her district court seat & with blue slips in play I don’t see us getting as progressive as a judge in that seat to replace her.
The way I look at it, Trump put numerous conservative judges in their 40’s on the court of appeals in California, Washington state & New York with little regard to what the states two Democrat senators felt so Biden should respond in kind. I think the two judges you mentioned are good, but we would be conceding a decade in age.
My number one pick I mentioned months ago, Rochelle Garza, staff attorney at the ACLU of Texas is now running for Texas attorney general so she is probably out of the running. But I would put 3 or 4 candidates on a list in her mold & negotiate with that list. Names like Marmolejo shouldn’t be included & then as you said use her as a last resort in case Manchin starts to make a fuss about bi-partisanship for judicial nominees (I pray to God he doesn’t). But other then that, this pick should be an absolute home run & rival Myrna Perez for a future SCOTUS vacancy.
As I’ve said before, Perales is sufficiently progressive and a heavy hitter that I would have no problem nominating her even with her birth year being 1966 (she graduated high school at 16, so the usual math using her law school graduation isn’t useful). Some other possibilities might be Diego Bernal (a state rep) or Michael Montano.
Garza is non starter, no shot to be confirmed. Her primary work in on abortion cases. Manchin would certainly vote against her, and unlike others who have worked in reproductive rights, no chance to get Collins or Murkowski either.
I think you get one shot to put your home run pick here. If the votes are not there, you then have to elevate Marmolejo.
I definitely agree with your last paragraph. With Costa waiting until January to announce his retirement, there will only be one shot at a home run pick.
We definitely disagree on nominating anybody born to n 1966. I don’t care how progressive they are, in a state of over 28 million people we can find somebody just as progressive & just as confirmable that is at least born in the 1970’s.
Senator Feinstein is out sick AGAIN today for the SJC executive committee vote so some nominees will be held over for a second time. Only 5 nominees will be voted on now…smh
I’ll say it again, it’s long past time for Feinstein to resign. She clearly is unable to do her job. If she is so sick that she cannot even vote remotely, it’s time to go.
Yea, I defended her despite me supporting De Leon in the senate primary but that was win I just thought he would be more progressive, not so much that she was doing a bad job. But after her reaction at the end of the Amy Comey Barrett hearing, to her constantly missing votes in a 50/50 senate, she really needs to take a look in the mirror & do what’s best for her state, her party & her country.
On another note Senator Brian Shatz has just announced he has Covid & will be quarantined for the next week or so. That means no vote in Holly Thomas until after the MLK recess. This is EXACTLY why I wanted the senate to stay in session that Friday & Saturday before the Christmas recess to finish confirming the remaining nominees.
I think the senate is going to be in Tues, but I’m not sure if its a regular week….I thought Schumer said something to effect the next regular work period is week of Jan 24th as he was closing out the senate today…. So I don’t know if that means they’ll vote on nominees, and will the SJC have their Thurs meeting….
Right now Schumer has his hands full trying to accomplish something with voting rights since Senators Manchin & Sinema seem to think voting rights is trivial…..
I think with the senator Shatz Covid announcement today, that will throw everything off. If anything they should at least stay in session & confirm the local DC judicial nominees. None of them should be too controversial enough that at least two GOP senators should vote yes on.
Unfortunately now Holly Thomas will have to wait until all 50 Dems are back to work. Thanks to senator Feinstein being out again today, we will have to wait two more weeks for the rest of the pending nominees unless Durbin brings in the SJC next week for a vote, which I highly doubt he will.
Feinstein was present in later afternoon as she voted
I would have muh rather her be present for the SJC vote today & miss the Ted Cruz bs vote
Perhaps Holly Thomas could get confirmed end of next week per the last sentence..
This sentence from POLIITICO below says senate will now have the recess the week of Jan 24th.. So that means no new nominations hearing until Feb. as there won’t be one next week..
“After nearly seven hours in limbo on Thursday, the Senate adjourned for the long weekend and postponed next week’s planned recess to the week of Jan. 24.”…
Yea, no need to just cancel the recess, just postpone it. I mean it’s not like there’s any work left to be done (In my sarcastic voice)… It’s so frustrating
On the electoral-vote.com site, they were talking about avenues Democrats can use to pass voting rights…They go into a lengthy explanation about senate rule XIX….Basically, it would be a way to make GOP speak til they drop…..BUT it would also eat up serious time on floor and nothing else could get done…I don’t know, voting rights is paramount, but so are judges…..Thanks senators Manchin & Sinema for nothing..
“Filibuster: Meanwhile, as the rules state, each Republican would be allowed to speak twice. There’s no limit on their speaking time, but they can’t leave the Senate floor. So, if you imagine they can each hold on for 6 hours on two different occasions, then the Republican members could eat up 600 hours. That’s 25 days if the Senate remains perpetually in session, and probably more like 2 months of actual Senate time. During that time, the upper chamber would not be able to do anything else (like, say, confirm judges)”
I’m ok with that approach only (And I mean ONLY) if all days off & recesses are cancelled until it’s completed. If this approach is going to be done between Monday 3pm to Thursday 5pm then the Biden presidency is over so no way.
If senators Cruz, Hawley & the rest of the 2024 hopefuls want to talk, let them miss the playoff games & Sunday church service to do it. We can ship them pizzas to the senate floor for President’s Day.
I agree…But it shouldn’t come to this…..What a different world this is if Cal Cunnigham (NC) and Sara Gideon (ME) would have won their 2020 senate races…
Hearing is scheduled for next Thurs 1/20
Had Cal Cunningham kept his Johnson in his pants, he would certainly be in the Senate now. Thom Tillis’ own campaign manager said that Tillis was clearly headed to defeat in that race.
If both Cunningham and Gideon won, it scrambles the Georgia races because control of the Senate is no longer at stake. I’m not sure how whether Democratic turnout would have been as high w/o that motivation. I think there’s a decent chance that Ossoff at the least loses in that scenario.
An executive meeting to vote out the remaining pending judicial nominees is good. Senator Feinstein showing up to vote would be better. Them also having a nominations hearing next week would have been GREAT.
After the nomination of Nancy Abudu to the 11th circuit, I looked up some other legal directors of the ACLU in states that have appeals court vacancies. Some were too old, but some looked like GREAT candidates. I’ll list some below with their approximate year of birth after their names.
10th circuit “Kansas” – Sharon Brett (1983) is Legal Director at the ACLU of Kansas.
5th circuit “Louisiana” – Nora Ahmed (1981) is Legal Director the ACLU of Louisiana. Nora is the child of immigrants—an Egyptian Muslim father and a South Asian Indian Hindu mother.
5th circuit “Texas” – Andre Segura (1980) is the Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas.
9th circuit “California” – Hector Villagra (1972) is the Executive Director of the ACLU of Southern California.
I think Hector Villagra is older than that, I have 1969 as his birthday.
The former legal director of the KS ACLU, Lauren Bonds, was even younger and more impressive; she’s now the legal director of the NPAP. Although I suspect too far to the left to be confirmed even if the Democrats had 52 votes.
Segura and Ahmed would make Sens. Cruz and Kennedy’s heads explode! There is also Edgar Saldivar from the Texas ACLU who would be a decent choice as well.
Your probably right on the years of birth. I am only estimating based on graduation years but as David Uriah has shown us you can’t always go by that… Lol
And making Ted Cruz head explode is exactly what I am looking for. Of course I would run it past senator Manchin prior to announcing. As long as he is ok with it then fire away.
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Todays’s nominations seem to be much welcomed news after the Childs nominations last years.
The streak of California only nominating sitting judges seems to be over as I do not see Robert Steven Huie as a current judge.
Biden will tie the number of black women to the appeals court with Arianna Freeman.
Even though I was hoping Nusrat Jahan Choudhury would be nominated to the 7th circuit, at least she will be nominated to the district court in NY.
The only bad pick out of the 8 is the renomination of Jennifer Rearden.
I disagree. There are some awesome nominations, and some absolutely terrible ones. I have a serious suspicion that Robert Huie might actually be a conservative.
I’ve been researching potential candidates for the 4th Circuit vacancy in South Carolina. I came across someone and she seems like she’d be similar to Mathis in terms of views (which I think is a reasonable for a state with GOP Senators). Her name is Meliah Bowers Jefferson. Looks like she’s represented both plaintiffs and corporations. Here is a detailed questionnaire she filled out in 2016 when she applied for a state judgeship: https://www.scstatehouse.gov/JudicialMeritPage/TranscriptInfoNovember2016/November292016Exhibits/Exhibit%203.pdf
Not a bad option. I still would probably prefer Marie Boyd (Jamie Harrison’s wife) and Breon CM Walker, but Meliah Bowers Jefferson may be an easier sell to Lindsay Graham.
While blue slips are not in play, I think Biden will give Graham considerable input on this selection because he regularly votes for judicial nominees.
BTW, how did you come across her?
I agree with Shawn that for most states I could give a crap what the Republican senator has to say in regards to a circuit court nominee, I think senator Graham has earned the right to have at least meaningful consultation.
Shawn is probably right that my personal first choice Bakari Sellers either doesn’t want to be a judge or would be a tough sell to senator Graham. I had never heard of Meliah Bowers Jefferson but looking her up, a 40 year old black women who has experience on both sides of the court but who is most likely a Democrat would certainly be a good choice. I definitely liked Shawn’s suggestion of Marie Boyd when I saw it last year.
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