Judge Nina Wang – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado

Judge Nina Wang has spent the better part of the last decade as a federal magistrate judge. That background, along with a relatively uncontroversial career, makes Wang favored to take a seat on the District of Colorado.

Background

Born in Taiwan, Wang attended Washington University in St. Louis graduating in 1994. Wang then received a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1997.

After graduating, Wang joined Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobsen as an associate before clerking for Judge Peter Messite on the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. Wang then spent four years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Colorado.

In 2004, Wang joined the Denver Office of Faegre Drinker, where she worked until 2015, when she was appointed to be a U.S. Magistrate Judge.

History of the Seat

Wang has been nominated for a vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. This seat will open on July 15, 2022 when Judge Christine Arguello takes senior status. Wang was previously recommended by Colorado Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper to replace Judge R. Brooke Jackson, but another candidate, Charlotte Sweeney was chosen instead. Wang was then nominated to replace Arguello.

Legal Experience

Wang began her legal career at the firm of Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobsen before spending four years as a federal prosecutor, where, among other matters, Wang represented the government in immigration habeas petitions. See, e.g., De Maria Gonzalez-Portillo v. Reno, 2000 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19537 (D. Colo. Dec. 6, 2000). From 2004 to 2015, Wang was at the Denver office of Faegre Drinker, where she worked on civil and intellectual property litigation. See, e.g., Pragmatus Telecom, LLC v. NETGEAR, Inc., 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 68616 (N.D. Cal. May 13, 2013).

Jurisprudence

Wang has served as a federal magistrate judge since her appointment in 2015. In this role, she presides by consent over civil matters and misdemeanors, assists district judges with discovery and settlement, and writes reports and recommendations on legal issues. Among her cases that she presided over, Wang recommended that a Failure to Protect claim filed by a group of incarcerated plaintiffs against correctional officers not be dismissed, which was largely adopted by U.S. District Judge Philip Brimmer. See Leal v. Falk, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 60556 (D. Colo. Mar. 29, 2021). In a separate case, Judge Christine Arguello adopted Wang’s recommendation to dismiss civil rights claims against Erie County officials who the plaintiff claims defamed her and her boyfriend by claiming that he was a sex-offender. See Trujillo v. Wren, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 178342 (D. Colo. Sept. 20, 2021).

In another matter, Wang sanctioned plaintiff’s counsel in an antitrust lawsuit involving surgical bone mills, noting that they had failed to be forthright with the court. See Fink Densford, Lenox MacLaren Lawyers Draw Sanctions in Medtronic Anti-Trust Suit, MassDevice, Sept. 21, 2015. Wang also presided over a review of a settlement agreement for the release of the mentally ill who are incarcerated pending a return to competency. See Allison Sherry, Lawyers Seek Release of Mentally Ill From Colorado Jails, A.P. State & Local, Dec. 5, 2018.

Writings

As a law student, Wang authored a book review of Lucy Salyer’s Laws Harsh as Tigers, which discussed anti-Chinese racism and Chinese Exclusion Laws in the late 19th Century. See Nina Wang, Laws Harsh as Tigers: Chinese Immigrants and the Shaping of Modern Immigration Law. Lucy E. Salyer. Chapel Hill, N.C. & London: The University of North Carolina Press, 1995, 31 Harv. C.R.-C.L. L. Rev. 587 (Summer, 1996). Wang describes Salyer’s writing as “a vivid reminder of the insidious effects of racism. Id. at 598.

Political Activity

Wang has made a handful of political donations, including to former Gov. Bill Ritter, a Colorado Democrat. In 2008, Wang also donated $50 to a Committee opposing Amendment 46, a proposed constitutional amendment (which narrowly failed in the general election) that would have banned affirmative action in public employment, education, and contracting.

Overall Assessment

With two decades of experience both as a judge and a litigator, it is hard to question Wang’s qualifications for a federal judgeship. As such, Wang’s nomination is unlikely to attract the opposition of her colleague Sweeney, and is likely to be confirmed before Judge Arguello moves off the bench.

63 Comments

  1. This nominee isn’t as good as Charlotte Sweeney but certainly is better then Regina Rodriguez. This article doesn’t mention it but Wang cofounded the Colorado Pro Bono Patent Initiative, so that makes her a little better.

    The other two recommendations to Biden probably have more of a progressive background, however that would have reverted the court back to only 2 women. Now that a third vacancy has opened up for February of next year, let’s see if one of the remaining recommended lawyers get selected.

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    • “This nominee isn’t as good as Charlotte Sweeney but certainly is better then Regina Rodriguez”.

      Probably the best assessment of Wang’s merits. Definitely a solid nominee and I’m pleased to read about her work with the Pro Bono Patent Initiative, but she’s not exactly the most exciting candidate.

      Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing, I hasten to add.

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  2. This is certainly a solid nominee, but I am a bit concered about this administration (similar to the Obama administration) appointing so many federal magistrates. While certainly qualified, they tend to be quite centrist. Especially in states with two Democratic senators, I am and remain of the view that this administration should do their utmost to appoint 35-year old progressives.

    Liked by 1 person

    • @ twelfthcircuit

      From your lips to God’s ears regarding the last part of your statement.

      On another note, happy finally getting some judicial confirmation day everybody. Now if we finally get another batch of nominees this week, it will truly be a great way to lead into the KBJ hearings next week.

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  3. Looks like the rest of the confirmations will be next week when Sen.Shaheen comes back.
    I hope we see discharge motions done then as well, as we need a move on with those folks as well.
    And while Biden was keeping up pace with Trump and George W at the start, he has now slowed down on nominees.
    That needs to change soon as well, especially for Circuit court seats.
    The fact the 10th Circuit seat in Kansas has no nominee over a year after Judge Mary Briscoe took senior status is inexcusable.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I saw senator Shaheen was out as well. Hopefully with the SCOTUS hearings next week we can actually have all 50 Democrats at work for the entire week. By the end of next week we really need the 5 tied nominees discharged, additional confirmation & of course priority number one another batch of nominees. And a few batch this time, not a number I can count on one hand.

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  4. If there’s another vacancy in Colorado, the logical choice would seem to be Kenzo Kawanabe. He’s already been vetted and seems to be capable. The alternative is to go back to the drawing board and that’ll take a while.

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  5. I’m like the kid in the car who asks “Are we there yet” every five minutes, but in this instance. we’ll replace that with “do we have new nominees yet”?….

    Come on WH be like a 15th seed who just beat Kentucky in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament and surprise us!!!! Please

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Good to see that confirmations have restarted. I was starting to get a bit worried that no other Article III judges would get confirmed prior to KBJ’s confirmation vote.

    As Wang is a decent, but unremarkable nominee – although I have a horrible feeling that Republicans are going to use her comments on institutional racism against her – I’m going to open up another question for the thread:

    Given that there are a number of Article I courts in need of nominees, are there any good potential nominees for those courts that people would like to see proposed by the White House?

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    • @livesofthelaw

      We have discussed in length on other threads who we think should be nominated for various judicial vacancies. I will list some of the ones I have mentioned below for just the circuit courts. I will put the names in order of who I think should be nominated;

      D.C. Circuit – Deepak Gupta, Andrew Manuel Crespo, Roberto Gonzalez, Karla Gillbride, Alice Wang & any other nominee that would be the first Hispanic to this court.

      First Circuit – (RI) Erin Lynch & Melissa Long. (MA) Bessie Dewar, Andrew Manuel Crespo (But I would prefer the DC circuit) & Ana Isabel Munoz. I’m hoping it will not be Denise J. Casper as I would like a younger nominee. (NH) I have no clue on this seat.

      Second Circuit – Christina Rodriguez, Raheem Mullins, Joshua Perry (He also could be considered for the Louisianna 5th circuit seat) & Omar Williams.

      Third Circuit – (PA) Jasmine Harris, Nilam Sanghvi, Sandra Mayson & Susan Lin. (DE) Tamika Mongomery-Reeves & Christopher Howland.

      Fourth Circuit – (SC) – J. Michelle Childs (I would literally carry her to hear seat if she switched from the DC circuit to stay in South Carolina, Meliah Bowers Jefferson & Janet Rhodes. (MD) Ajmel Quereshi, Liz Oyer, Deborah Boardman & George J. Hazel.

      Fifth Circuit – Too many names to mention. In general, for the (LA) seat I would guess a state court judge appointed by the two-term Democrat governor Edwards. For Texas, it almost surely will be a Latina. Hopefully a young, progressive Latina or Latino.

      Sixth Circuit – Rachel Bloomekatz, Michael Meuti,
      Ebunoluwa Taiwo & Erin Barnhart.

      Seventh Circuit – (IL) John Rappaport, Jennifer Soble, Jennifer Nou & Nancy Maldonado. (IN) Jessica Eaglin, Zachary A. Myers &
      Mario Garcia.

      Ninth Circuit – We have discussed if this seat should remain a California seat or revert back to Washington state. While I think the former will happen, I will give my opinions for both.

      (CA) Monica Ramirez-Almadani, Victor A. Rodriguez, Shilpi Agarwal & Helen Hong.

      (WA) Marsha Chien, Lauren J. King & Jamal Whitehead.

      (AZ) Victoria Lopez, Eunice Lee, Stacy Leeds &
      Justin Pidot. I assume Rosemary Marquez will also be considered but I hope it will be a younger nominee.

      Tenth Circuit – Jacy Hurst, Daniel Hansmeier , Carl Folsom, Lauren Bonds (She would be my first choice but might not get all 50 Democrats to vote to confirm her) & a Native American nominee.
      Keynen “KJ” Wall & Terrrence J. Campbell may also get some consideration but should not be picked.

      Liked by 1 person

      • @John and @Dequan

        I did indeed mean the Article I Courts, as they are usually (unsurprisingly) given a much lower profile, although they can be hugely important in areas like patent and civil administration law.

        But thank you Dequan, as always, for your very comprehensive summary of the Article III nominations 🙂

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  7. @livesofthelaw, are you talking about Article I courts as in the Court of Federal Claims, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, and (I think) the DC local courts? Since those courts are term limited (usually 15 years) and have limited jurisdiction, I think most folks are less concerned with them – Republicans even agreed to confirm the two CFC nominees by voice vote.

    However, the fact that Republicans forced roll call votes on even the nominees to the DC Superior Court shows how extreme/uncooperative they have become these days – all the more reason why the Biden administration should tell the likes of Marsha Blackburn to shove it where the sun doesn’t shine with their complaints.

    But if you actually meant Article III (the federal district & appellate courts), @Dequan’s summary is very comprehensive. Let’s hope we start seeing some of those names be nominated soon. I mean, what is the judicial nominations team at the White House even doing these days? Other than falling asleep at the wheel.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. My fear with nominees, especially Circuit court ones is Republicans will start to play hardball more and more and require discharge motions for all of them.
    It’s why we need to pick up the pace in nominations again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I definitely see more tie votes coming out of the SJC as the midterms gets closer. At a minimum I think most red state nominees that don’t get at least one GOP blue slip will be a tie vote going forward.

      This goes back to what I said on another post last year. Schumer should schedule all discharge votes one Friday a month. If Republicans want to vote in unison against nominees in committee then they will have to hang around for the weekend once a month to discharge them. As of right now there is no penalty for a tie vote & in all actuality it’s a positive for Republicans because Schumer has to waste valuable floor time during the week discharging nominees instead of confirming others.

      I’m sorry to say but Republicans are playing chess while Democrats are playing checkers when it comes to the judiciary.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree Republicans care more about the judiciary then Democrats too but IMO, things would be different if we had an outright majority.
        We don’t and I suspect that’s why Schumer has been doing some things to play nice with Republicans like Graham, who could really have made things not fun for us on there if he wanted to.

        Liked by 2 people

      • @Zack I agree that a lot of this is probably down to Dems having the slimmest of majorities in the Senate, but I also think Schumer could be more forceful. The fact that he didn’t file cloture motions for weeks is just shameful, especially since some of these nominees have been confirmed with Republican votes.

        @Dequan I would love for there to be votes on Friday (or some kind of incentive for Republicans to not deadlock nominees in committee), but that lazy airhead Sinema is probably too busy doing paid internships at wineries or fundraising in Europe to show up. Even some of the less horrible Dem senators are also too lazy to do their jobs on Fridays (though I would think there are Republicans who wouldn’t show either), so I guess it’s not that Schumer won’t do it, but that he doesn’t have the votes to get a nominee through.

        On Graham, I’m increasingly concerned that he is just going to hold Floyd’s seat open this year. He has the leverage to do so, and if it’s not filled before this fall, it probably won’t be filled by this administration at all given Dems’ odds in the Senate right now. If the next Republican administration fills it, that would cut the liberal majority in the 4th Circuit (one of the few where liberals outnumber conservatives) from 9-6 to a closer 8-7. Add in Robert King’s idiotic little temper tantrum, and the 4th will probably revert back to a conservative majority in the next few years.

        If it weren’t for Clyburn’s misguided attempt to get Childs on SCOTUS, Childs would have probably had an easy time getting nominated to replace Floyd. Childs is hardly progressive (or arguably even center-left), but I doubt anyone that Graham would sign off on will be. On the other hand, given Childs’ punitive record when it comes to the rights of criminal defendants, maybe it is better that she’s on the DC Circuit where there’s a lighter criminal docket and she has less room to do damage.

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      • My number one issue with Childs being on the DC circuit versus the 4th circuit (Where I still wouldn’t be thrilled but would at least hold my nose & support her) is that nobody should be put on the DC circuit that isn’t instantly put on the SCOTUS short list. Childs had no business anywhere near that list, let alone on it.

        With the limited amount of seats on that court, Childs being nominated is taking a seat away from a Deepak Gutpta, Roberto Gonzalez, Karla Gillbride or Andrew Manuel Crespo. Not to mention we now have to backfill her district court seat with blue slips in play in a red state. I truly would fight tooth & nail to sink her nomination if I were in the senate. I would make it clear to her if she wants my vote, switch to the 4th circuit. My hope is her nominations hearing is taking so long because those very discussions are going on behind closed doors but I fear that’s wishful thinking.

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      • @Dequan unfortunately, it seems like Childs will still move forward on the DC Circuit based on Durbin’s comment today:
        https://mobile.twitter.com/JamesArkin/status/1506287805206605829?cxt=HHwWisC97eaxtOcpAAAA.

        @Frank I’m also thankful that blue slips aren’t in play for circuit court nominees anymore. I don’t think Dems are dumb enough to bring them back (they didn’t for Mathis), but it’s more that they could give Graham an informal/de facto blue slip because he’s generally been cooperative on judicial nominees so far. I imagine that Graham would be less cooperative if Biden nominates someone to one of SC’s few circuit seats without his approval, and that could temper this administration’s willingness to move quickly on filling that seat.

        That being said, if his failure to put for new nominees is anything to go by, Biden is doing a perfectly good job of screwing up the judicial nominees process without any Republican obstruction. I don’t even think they will fill all the circuit vacancies before the midterms at this point, which is a failure of massive and unforgiveable proportions.

        Can anyone explain why they have become so inept when things were decent last year? Did nominating KBJ (which took ridiculously long to pick the most obvious candidate) use up whatever remnant of intelligent thought that Biden’s septuagenarian brain is still capable of?

        Liked by 1 person

      • I saw Durbin comments today but I guess I was hoping he could have met consider her for the 4th circuit. That’s not likely though I admit… Lol

        I was happy to hear senator Whitehouse today say he hopes there will be a nominee for the 1st circuit RI seat very soon. That indicates to me a recommendation has already been sent to The White House.

        If we end this week without another batch of nominees, I too fear we will not fill all current vacancy circuit court seats, let alone any additional seats that may become vacant. It’s truly mind blowing after the great start The White House got off to.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Here are some more names to consider for various courts;

    Jennifer S. Martínez (born 1971) – Any of the California vacancies

    Alexander A. Reinert (born c. 1972) – Any of the New York vacacies

    Aziz Z. Huq (born c. 1974) – 7th circuit

    Thiruvendran Vignarajah (born 1976) – Maryland circiut or district court vacancies

    Ginger D. Anders (born 1977) – Any of the DC or Maryland vacancies.

    Danielle C. Gray (born 1977/1978) – Various courts

    Pratik A. Shah (born c. 1979) – Any of the DC or Maryland vacancies.

    ImeIme Umana (born 1993) – DC district court

    Liked by 1 person

    • We saw two more confirmations today and I suspect we will see more before the week is through.
      Judging by Whitehouse’s comments today, I suspect we’ll be seeing nominees before the end of the week or next as well.
      Would have been nice if we could have seen them in February, especially since in some cases we know who they’ll be.

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      • I was hoping senator Whitehouse would let it slip who he recommended. That’s one thing I love about senator Schumer. He will let the public know in advance who he recommends. The Virginia & Colorado senators do as well. I wish others would too.

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  10. I am please that California now has a Latina on the Supreme Court there.

    Not to take away from her historic ascension to that court:

    If you were confused and wanted just one example of how liberals and conservatives differ on the judiciary consider that.

    Just days (or a week?) apart, the governors of Georgia and California made nominations to their state’s Supreme Courts. One nominee was a 30-something year old. The other is a 50 year old.
    Guess who nominated whom?

    Republicans always mean business…

    Like

    • So true. And even when a Democrat nominates a state Supreme Court Justice in or near their 30’s they get blocked for over a year like in New Jersey. A deep blue state yet the latest nominee still isn’t confirmed their. I can assure you had a Republican nominated a justice in their low 40’s in a deep red state a year ago they would already be on the bench even if they had to change the rules to do it.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. So it looks like three Democrat senators have missed votes yesterday & today so far, senators Casey, Manchin & Shaheen. Despite that we have a 2:15pm schedule vote for the Julie Rubin nomination with more expected today. If all three of those Democrats are going to miss the votes today I think VP Harris might need to be on stand by unless there are some Republican senators out as well.

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    • I think the 8 nominees pending on the floor will all get GOP votes – they all did, even Nathan for 2nd Circuit, for cloture….

      However, we won’t be able to have the discharge votes until all 50 Democrats return…

      More than anything right now though we desperately need new nominees from the WH….

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  12. Looks like Jennifer Nou (who other commenters noted had cleared her Twitter) has begun tweeting again: https://twitter.com/Jennifer_Nou/with_replies.

    Since Dale Ho and Myrna Perez’s Twitter accounts are still either private or cleared, I assume this means that (if she was vetted) the administration has either chosen someone else or narrowed down the candidates to the finalists. I’m not sure how much to actually read into these changes to individuals’ Twitter accounts though.

    Anybody have any idea who other possible candidates would be? I know folks have mentioned John Rappaport, but just from the optics, it seems unlikely that Biden would nominate a white man to one of the least diverse circuits in the country (maybe to the Indiana seat). Also, Rappaport is still tweeting if that is any indication: https://twitter.com/johnmrappaport?lang=en.

    Let’s just hope the administration saves us all the speculation and just announces soon p because this delay is getting ridiculous. I hope Demand Justice or one of the other orgs is pressuring the administration to hurry up with nominations. Honestly, it’s probably past time to make their pressure public given how slowly this administration does anything.

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  13. The KBJ hearing just ended. Chairman Durbin stated the SJC will meet THIS Monday, March 28th for an executive session for KBJ. WOW, that is absolutely great news. I thought we would have to wait for next week Thursday. Terrific news

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    • I heard that to, but you watch, she’ll be held over…..I wonder if Davis and Freeman will be on the executive session to, my guess is no…

      If there’s no regular executive session for the 2 circuit nominees next Thurs, then they’ll be on 2nd week of April…..Then they would clear committee after Easter

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      • I’m fine with her being held over if the first executive vote will be THIS Monday. I was assuming it would be next week Thursday. There’s just no way around it, this is GREAT news.

        The pending nominees that had their hearing a few weeks ago absolutely should be added to Monday’s vote. I hope the remaining (Non William Pocan) nominees are given s hearing before the Easter recess.

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    • It was especially good with them being down 3, & in some cases 4 Democrats. I’ve long said while frustrated, I’m not really worried about the slow pace of confirmations because they can knock a bunch out in one week. I will admit my number one worry of Durbin processing nominees through the SJC has been replaced with no new batches of nominees from The White House. If we don’t get any new batch in the next 72 hours my worry level will be at DEFCON 2.

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      • As I’ve said before, I’d bet that the FBI background check on Jackson slowed down the nominations of the lower court nominees. While I thought the idea that we would see new nominees a few weeks ago to be highly unlikely, I’d bet on us seeing new judicial nominees before the end of the month (and quite possibly in a larger batch than we have previously seen from Biden).

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  14. A few observations:
    Unlike the estimable @Dequan, I highly doubt that the outcome of KBJ’s SJC vote is anything but a tie. At best, we can only hope for one “present” vote by a Republican. This is the GOP we are talking about. They have always had a take no prisoner approach to SCOTUS and the fed judiciary in general.

    Do not count on Lisa Murkowski. She has never voted FOR a Dem SCOTUS nominee. If she voted against Sotomayor (in the first year of a popular presidency) don’t expect her to vote for KBJ when she has that female Trump snipping at her heel in Alaska. One can also note that she voted against Kagan in another election year, and even with that she lost the primary election.

    @Rick a tie KBJ vote won’t help other noms needing discharge votes. Remember that the US Senate is an incredibly efficient place that can debate and vote on multiple things at a time. HA! No, the senate floor is organized by calendar events. If KBJ is indeed deadlock in SJC, as soon as the full senate votes to discharge her Schumer will bring up her nomination for the 30 hours of debate, during which no other nom action can take place. Just a reminder that SCOTUS floor debate isn’t like the mere 2 hours needed for district and circuit court noms.

    And finally, we do not need to do the most with this confirmation. First, I regret that KBJ signal her intention to recuse from the affirmative action cases (I’m generally against AA myself) because she didn’t need to do that to win confirmation. But maybe she didn’t want it to make waves, though only a single senator brought it up. Kavanaugh and Barratt are no less legitimate than Breyer and look at the difference in the senate votes for them. I am absolutely fine with 51 votes to confirm KBJ; it’ll be more than Kavanaugh’s.
    Apropos of NOTHING and just for fellow court geeks that nerd out on in-the-weeds facts: if a NON-Breyer and NON-Roberts justice happens to die unexpectedly between the time KBJ is confirmed and Breyer’s actual retirement, the president can absolutely appoint her to that vacant seat. He’ll then have to find a new nom for Breyer’s seat. Associate Justices seats are interchangeable in confirmation and appointment. Only the Chief Justice seat requires a distinct (though paradoxically same) confirmation process.

    Liked by 1 person

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