Judge Doris Pryor, who has served as a federal magistrate judge on the Southern District of Indiana for the past five years, has been tapped for an appellate judgeship on the Seventh Circuit.
Born in Hope, Arkansas, Pryor attended the University of Central Arkansas, getting a B.Sc. in 1999. She continued on to Indiana University Maurer School of Law, getting her J.D. in 2003.
After graduating law school, Pryor clerked for Judge Lavenski Smith on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit and for Judge J. Leon Holmes on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas. Pryor then spent a year as a public defender in Arkansas before becoming a federal prosecutor with the Southern District of Indiana.
In 2017, Pryor was appointed to be a U.S. Magistrate Judge for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.
History of the Seat
Pryor has been nominated for an Indiana seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. This seat opened when Judge David Hamilton indicated his intention to take senior status upon confirmation of a successor.
Other than a year as a public defender, Pryor has spent her entire career pre-bench as a federal prosecutor in Southern Indiana.
Among the notable cases she has handled, Pryor has handled a number of appeals before the Seventh Circuit. See United States v. Hawkins, 480 F.3d 476 (7th Cir. 2007). For example, Pryor unsuccessfully sought to defend an Armed Career Criminal Act enhancement for a defendant convicted of felon in possession. United States v. Smith, 544 F.3d 781 (7th Cir. 2008). In another case that Pryor presented to the Seventh Circuit, the court remanded for further fact-finding on a Batson challenge after the only two African American jurors on a venire were struck. See United States v. Rutledge, 648 F.3d 555 (7th Cir. 2011).
Pryor has a single political contribution to her name, to Indiana gubernatorial candidate John Gregg in 2016.
Jurisprudence & Reversals
Since 2017, Pryor has served as a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Indianapolis. In this role, she presides over settlement, preliminary hearings, bail, and any cases where the parties consent to her jurisdiction. Among the notable cases that Pryor has handled as a magistrate, she denied a motion by attorneys for the City of Indianapolis to strike expert testimony brought by a plaintiff who was attacked by a police dog while sitting in his backyard. See Mitchum v. City of Indianapolis, 534 F. Supp. 3d 1001 (S.D. Ind. 2021). In another case, she granted a defense motion to strike the testimony of the plaintiff’s expert, an oncologist who sought to discuss the standard of care in radiology. Lyons v. United States, 550 F. Supp. 3d 588 (S.D. Ind. 2021).
Judge Pryor enters the confirmation process with the support of Sen. Todd Young, one of Indiana’s Republican senators. This support should go a long way in smoothing the road for her, even if Indiana’s other senator, Sen. Michael Braun, chooses to oppose her.
As such, barring the unexpected, it is likely that Judge Pryor will be confirmed in the next few months.
Six years after Myra C. Selby was nominated by president Obama to be the first black woman to serve on the 7th circuit & blocked by Mitch McConnell, we now have Doris Pryor. Judge Pryor is 20 years younger, has a Democrat majority leader & the support of one of her Republican home state senators so she should have a much better fate then Selby. While Pryor only served one year as a federal defender, she is still a good pick for this red state seat.
The real fight will be to see who is nominated for the other recently vacated 7th circuit seat due to now deceased judge Kanne. Perhaps Pryor’s fellow magistrate judge Mario Garcia, US attorney Zackary Myers or my personal favorite Jessica M. Eaglin. The latter of those three would definitely need to be discharged from the SJC, but a 39 year old liberal law professor who would then be the third black woman to serve on a circuit that didn’t even have one a year ago, would be well worth it. I’ll just be satisfied to get a nominee before the August recess so there will be a realistic chance of confirmation before the end of the year.
I found some notable things about Doris Pryor. She clerked for two Republican-appointed judges. One, Leon Holmes, had a reputation for being far right. Also, the one Democratic candidate she donated to, former state House Speaker John Gregg, is a former coal company lobbyist with a reputation for being bipartisan. Does anyone think that will reflect on Pryor’s jurisprudence?
She also clerked for Lavenski Smith, who is also very right-wing – it’s not like there are many liberal judges in Arkansas though, so I wouldn’t necessarily hold that against her. Her donation to Gregg was also in the 2016 Indiana governor’s face – not exactly one that Dems had any real chance of winning.
Combined with her AUSA background, I would imagine she might be more sympathetic to the government in criminal cases than progressives would like, but my guess is that she’s a standard Dem on most other issues. After all, Hamilton (the judge she’s replacing) is a solid liberal, but he was the deciding vote upholding Brendan Dassey’s (the Making a Murdered guy)’s conviction under what was clearly a coerced confession. She’s probably as good as we are going to get a red state senator to support.
I never hold the Judges a nominee clerked for against them. Dale Ho clerked for a conservative judge & he’s one of my favorite Biden nominees.
In the case of Pryor, I suspect she’s straight out of Central Casting for an Indiana’s nominee that got the support of one of the conservative senators. She isn’t a liberal flame thrower but acceptable for a Democrat president. I suspect she will satisfy us for decades on her votes but not looking for her to be the female version of Brandeis when it comes to her opinions… Lol
@Hank Smith had a reputation at my school of being fine for a conservative judge, and he’s had the president of our ACS chapter clerk for him (as evidence that who you clerk for doesn’t necessarily translate to your own beliefs)
I think Pryor is a very strong pick. This is a solid B+ in my book given that it is a red state.
As for the recently vacated 7th Circuit seat, I am with you Dequan, I just want to get it filled this session even if it has to be a center left nominee in their 50s.
I actually gave grades on all Biden circuit court nominees last night on the Rachel Bloomekatz post. I gave Pryor a A- so you & I are pretty close aligned.
Ketanji Brown Jackson – A+
Candace Jackson-Akiwumi – A+. I flirted with downgrading her to an A because she just released her first opinion last week despite being on the 7th circuit since last July 1st. But I won’t penalize her for that with her lengthy record as a public defender as well as her being in her low 40’s.
Tiffany P. Cunningham – A
Eunice C. Lee – A. While there were younger choices that were just as progressive, with her being the longest serving federal defender to ever serve on a circuit court, I really couldn’t go lower then an A.
Veronica S. Rossman – A
Gustavo Gelpí – B+. He is a good pick, but the Puerto Rico SCOTUS chief justice or her wife whom Biden just nominated to the district court last week would have been younger & just as progressive. However with him being a Trump appointee to the district court, I get the temptation to go with him for an easier confirmation. I also have to take a little off for having to spend time backfilling his district court seat.
Myrna Pérez – A+
Beth Robinson – A. While she was born in 1965, she truly is a solid & historic pick. I doubt a SCOTUS pick will come from Vermont so I’m ok with an older pick for this seat.
Toby J. Heytens – A-
Lucy Koh – C+. I previously gave her a C, however I will upgrade her to a C+ because of things I found out during her SJC hearing & confirmation process that showed me she was more progressive then previously known to me. Still her age plus California having so many more younger & progressive nominees, even just AAPI, leaves me not to be able to go higher then that. I also have to take a little off for having to spend time backfilling her district court seat.
Jennifer Sung – A
Gabriel P. Sanchez – A-. I went back & fourth with this or a B+ but after seeing his confirmation hearing I’m going to go with the A- here.
Holly A. Thomas – A+
Leonard P. Stark – A-. Had he been nominated for any of the other 12 circuit courts this grade would have been lower. But for the federal circuit I’ll go with an A-.
Alison Nathan – A
Stephanie D. Davis – A-. Her age is the only reason she’s not an A.
Andre Mathis – A. With Tennessee being a red state, plus us going on 3,079 without a black man being confirmed to any circuit court, a Tennessee former Innocence Project lawyer & black man in his low 40o’s is a great pick.
J. Michelle Childs – F+. I really am trying to be fair here. My heart really wants me to give her a F or F- but I am going to take her years of experience into account. Now had she been nominated to the 4th circuit instead I would have given her a C.
John Z. Lee – B- – While he is a good judge, there simply were far younger & more progressive choices here.
Salvador Mendoza Jr. – B+. While there were some better choices here, A 50 year old Latino that seems pretty progressive will due, particularly with Biden’s lack of Hispanic nominees. I also have to take a little off for having to spend time backfilling his district court seat.
Sarah A. L. Merriam – A- – She is a good pick, but there were younger & more progressive picks here. Cristina Rodriguez would have been a much needed Hispanic & both Jamal Greene (Rapper Twalib Kweli’s brother) & Justin Driver would have been solid black men to pick. Also I have to take a little off for having to spend time backfilling her district court seat.
Lara Montecalvo – A
Nancy Abudu – A+
Arianna J. Freeman A+
Florence Y. Pan – D. This is pretty much a slightly better version of J. Michelle Childs with the same age. Plus I have to take a little off for having to spend time backfilling her district court seat.
Rachel Bloomekatz – A+. If there was an A++ she would get it.
Doris Pryor – A-
Brad Garcia – A+. He litigated pro bono immigration case & represented a group of prisoners who were denied the freedom to practice their religion. He only lost once in federal court, will e the first Hispanic to serve on the second highest court in the country & is 35. I am flip flopping between him & Myrna Perez as my second favorite pick.
Dana Douglas – B+ – For the 5th Louisiana seat I am fine with this pick. Senator Kennedy has voted for a few nominees & pushed back against some Trump nominees so I’m ok with a slight compromise nominee here.
Roopali Desai – A – I’ll be honest, if I had to pick one nominee I will change my grade on by the end of the year, this will probably be it. I can easily see me upgrading her to an A+ after her hearing & confirmation process. But for now I’ll leave her at an A.
LikeLiked by 1 person
There is no way there won’t be a fight over Kanne’s replacement, as that will be a flip of a very conservative judge to a moderate/liberal one.
I don’t expect Sen.Young to be as generous for round two if it comes.
@ Dequan / Shawn:
Who would be your ALL time favorite (& least favorite) circuit court picks….Who is the All Pro, first ballot Hall of Famer?……Go back as far as JFK to present day…..Mine would probably be
Favorite – Stephen Reinhardt (Carter)
Worst – Jose Cabranes (Clinton)
It would be difficult for me to answer that question. I’m not a lawyer & just started studying the judiciary in 2001 after I voted for the first time & my vote most likely didn’t count because I was one of the pregnant chads ballots from Miami-Dade County. That is the reason I started reading up on the judiciary, because I wanted to know who were these 9 people in robes that got to decide who me & so many other Floridians voted for. Then that led to where did they come from before they were on the SCOTUS which led me to read up on the lower courts.
If I can alter your question I would be better suited to answer it. I can give you my favorite Supreme Court Justice of all time because unlike the lower court judges that I started studying in 2001, I have gone back & studied most of the 116 justices.
My favorite justice of all time is John Marshall Harland (The first one from the 1870’s, not his grandson nominated by Eisenhower). He’s my favorite because despite him being a privileged white man born in a Kentucky slave owning family, he turned into one of the great dissenters on the court when it came to anti civil rights rulings. He didn’t have to do that. He could have taken the easy way out & made many of those rulings unanimous. But he was on the right side of history & I have so much respect for him because of that.
My heart wants to pick Thurgood Marshall or RBG but I just can’t pick them for my favorite because both could have retired at a time their successors would have been picked by a Democrat president instead of Clarence Thomas & ACB respectively. Marshall died I believe less then a week after Bill Clinton was inaugurated & we don’t have to rehash RBG.
For circuit court judges since 2001, I would probably have to say Rachel Bloomekatz is my favorite. I’m not trying to be a prisoner of the moment & recent light, I just honestly think she’s the best. Myrna Perez, Holy Thomas & Bradley Garcia are also up there. You can make the case my favorites are Pamela Harris or Robert Wilkins but I’ll give the edge to Bloomekatz based on age.
As for my worst circuit court judge, Justin Walker may be number one in my book. With him being a district court judge for less then a year, being rated not qualified for that seat, then being put on the second highest court in the land at 37 years old for a judge that was in all likelihood convinced to retire even though he was in his 60’s hurts. Plus some of his opinions have been conservative hard hitting writings. Him being the majority leaders side kick throws salt into the wound.
Just wanted to point out that Thurgood Marshall was in very very bad health at the time of his retirement and from what I can remember from one of my law school classes, would probably not have been able to fully perform in the job at that point. He’s personally my favorite Justice, so I’m a little biased, but I don’t think he would have been able to actually make it to Clinton.
Marshall definitely was in bad health, no disputing that. And he’s my second favorite Justice of all time so I’m certainly not bad mouthing him. But I read somewhere when he was in better health he told one of his law clerks (I’m going to paraphrase) if he dies to keep propping him up & voting until Bush is out of office.
I just wish he had taken a few months away from the court until the political environment showed him there was a good chance for Bush to lose re-election. We have seen recently the court can function for a year with 8 justices. The consequences are just to high on a 9 member court to at least not give it a try for as long as you can hold out. But I have nothing but respect for Justice Marshall.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Marshall died 4 days after Clinton took office, so if he stayed on until he died he would have made it to Clinton.
Good post. At least in Marshall’s case he was on the tail end of 12 straight years of GOP presidents with no end in sight. I do wish he’d stepped away for a few months like you suggest. Or better yet retire under Jimmy Carter.
RBG was simply an dumb and (in my opinion) egotistical decision. I think she got caught up in her own celebrity. Retiring in 2013 as an 80 year old multi time cancer survivor would have been by far the smart decision.
I saw an interview with Justice Stevens where he said he told Justice Souter he trusted him & to let him know if his work started to skip. He said had Souter told him so, he would have retired regardless of who the president was. When Souter retired in 2009, Stevens said the person he trusted to tell him when he started to slip was gone. That mainly led him to retire the next year.
I wish RBG had done the same thing with Justice Breyer or even Scalia. But as you mentioned her ego & her getting caught up in her own celebrity is why we are where we are now sadly.
In the past, I would have agreed with Reinhardt being the best, however I can no longer agree given Reinhardt’s sexual misconduct allegations.
Favorite- Harry Pregerson (Carter, 9th Cir.). I also think that William Fletcher (9th Cir.), Marsha Berzon (9th Cir.), James L. Dennis (5th Cir.), David Bazelon (Truman judge to D.C. Cir.), Torruella (1st Cir.) are really good. Biden judges are too new for me to have fully formed my views on them.
Least favorite- So many Trump judges, it’s hard to choose. I would say it’s between James C. Ho (5th Cir.), Daniel P. Collins (9th Cir.), Lawrence VanDyke (also 9th Cir.), Justin R. Walker (D.C. Cir.), Greg Katsas (also D.C. Cir).
I really didn’t start following judicial nominations until around 2004-05…..I remember how hard Republicans were fighting to get their judges confirmed……Thus, slowly but surely, I started to become aware of how important judicial nominations are – ALL courts to, not just SCOTUS…..I mean, judges decide hot button issues like abortion, gay marriage, guns, immigration, voting rights (which is becoming off the charts important today), First Amendment issues ie; XXX industry, shock jocks, etc……I think it was Jutice Potter Stewart who gave the classic phrase, (paraphrasing) I can’t define pornography, but I know it when I see it”..
Haaaaaa… Yes, that justice Porter quite always brings a smile to my face. I also like the one (Can’t remember which Justice said it) that said the only thing that matters at the court is you can count to five. Justice Robert Jackson has my favorite justice quote however. “We are not final because we are infallible, but we are infallible only because we are final”
As I’ve previously said, Pryor having extensive experience from both sides of the aisle along with being a magistrate judge makes this one of Biden’s best appeals court picks.
I listed Carbanes as the worst nominee from a Democratic president…
But worst Circuit judge overall could be a long list if counting nominees from GOP presidents…….Probably 6-8 alone on the Fifth Circuit….Plus there are some really bad District court nominees from Texas…..Rao on the DC Circuit is really awful…Easterbrook is bad in large part because he’s been on the 7th Circuit 35 yrs – that’s a lot of opinions..
Only 4 judges tomorrow Bloomekatz, Pan, Reyes, & Hanes (5th nominee is an assistant AG spot), underwhelming
It’s less upsetting though upon seeing which 4 judges are getting a hearing.
On Doris Pryor
When it comes to Democrats nominating and controlling the judicial nomination process, I am always skeptical about Republican good faith behavior. This is why Sen. Young’s statement on Pryor is like a 100% certified fresh Rotten Tomatoes score, ie, a ringing endorsement. If this was earlier in the game, I would suggest renominating Pryor to Kanne’s seat and find someone else for Judge David Hamilton’s, who will remain active until a replacement is appointed. That way, the immediate vacancy is filled and if Dems mess up nominating someone else before time runs out, Hamilton can always rescind his senior status announcement. At this rate, I have no faith in Dems actually confirming someone for Kanne’s seat before they lose the Senate in November.
The Loooooong Arm of Judicial Confirmation
Today, SCOTUS continues to erode the bedrock principle of separation of church and state in a 6-3 ruling in Carson v. Makin. President H.W. Bush’s SCOTUS appointee Clarence Thomas joined in that decision to reverse President H.W. Bush’s SCOTUS appointee David H. Souter, who, in retirement from active service, sat by designation on the 1st Circuit’s panel that decided Carson v. Makin on appeal:
Goes to show, every judge matters. Every court matters. Every election matters.
LikeLiked by 1 person
completely agree with your statement about the “Loooooong Arm of Judicial Confirmation”
I didn’t even think of that. I believe Biden could always rescind Pryor’s nomination then resubmit it to Kanne’s seat. But who are we kidding. This is the same administration that nominated Sarah A. L. Merriam to Carney’s seat instead of Cabranes. Like they had a 50/50 chance to get it right & still f”cked it up.
And when I hear people argue age isn’t important in judicial nominations then see what you described today, it just makes me shake my head. It’s a shame how much better Republicans are when it comes to judges. Biden is far better then most Democrats & even he screws it up far too often.
While Justin Walker is my worst circuit court judge in the past two decade, James C. Ho would be my second worst. He’s really bad & is AAPI so he will be attractive for a SCOTUS vacancy for years to come for a Republican president.
I think there’s only been one hearing under Biden that I opened the SJC website the day before & was surprised in a good way. But as long as Bloomekatz is one of the nominees I’m good. If Biden has sent so many nominees that there would be a hearing in which some would be left off I would be upset. But I don’t see a large double digit package on the horizon so 4 nominees is fine for tomorrow. Let them include the Ambassador of Chucky Cheese for now… Lol
I’m not sure how it would work, but I’ve heard that if a SCOTUS justice (non-Chief) happened to die during KBJ’s confirmation process, KBJ could be switched to that seat w/o having to re-go through the process. So I’d imagine it would be the same for the circuit courts (there is no official Chief seat for circuit judges, they rotate). So I think Pryor could be switched to Kanne’s seat, but the chances of it are not good.
No, the Republicans are not better at judges. Look at the Supreme Court it has the lowest approval ratings in history.
No serious person could expect to get a fair hearing there unless you are right wing.
I don’t know if it’s an error but if not I caught a major coincidence on the questionnaire for Rachel Bloomekatz today. In section 6. Employment Record, it states 2019 Universidad Cat6lica del Uruguay, Facultad de Derecho Avenida 8 de Octubre 2738
116600 Montevideo Departamento de Montevideo, Uruguay
Ana Reyes, who is also in tomorrow’s hearing was born in Uruguay. I’ve never seen anything in Bloomekatz history that I have researched that has ever shown her doing any teaching in that country. I wonder was this just an error but if not then that makes Bloomekatz an even better nominee then I originally thought.
This isn’t an error. She said that she’s lived in Uruguay until recently in this video that Rick posted in her section, not sure how long she lived there. See @14:51:
Oh wow, that is one Hell of a coincidence. Thanks for the clip.
Nominations can definitely be switched to a different seat before the nominee’s commission is signed. There’s not any question about that at all. The question is will THIS administration be strategic enough to switch Pryor from Hamilton to Kanne’s seat. I can already give you the answer to that but I don’t want to ruin your night… Lol
LikeLiked by 1 person
Of course not. I don’t think a Republican administration would even make such a switch if a liberal judge died before the midterms; Republicans in 2018 filled the seats previously held by conservatives (though already vacated) and (successfully) hedged their bet that they would keep the senate, and then filled the seats of the lates Pregerson and Reinhardt (possibly the 2 most liberal circuit judges in the nation) in 2019.
If we somehow keep the Senate in the midterms, I think it’s likely that Kanne’s seat gets filled in 2023. There’s no guarantee that Hamilton would rescind if Biden doesn’t fill his seat, so switching to Kanne’s seat might only give liberals a temporary extra seat. The only judges I see a significant possibility of rescinding if a Republican takes office are: Thompson (1st Cir.), McKee (3rd Cir.), Motz (4th Cir.), Dennis (5th Cir.) (if he is still able to do the job), Bernice Donald (6th Cir.), Wood (7th Cir.), Sidney Thomas (9th Cir.).
I kinda already knew the answer smh… if this was June 2021 then you might’ve ruined my night.
Even if we don’t fill Kanne’s seat we can still have some 7th Cir. victories since Easterbrook & St. Eve are swingable: St. Eve has cast decisive votes not to rehear abortion cases & Easterbrook sided with the liberals in Hively v. Ivy Tech (a LGBTQ rights case precursor to Bostock v. Clayton County)
Good point. I don’t know the science behind hedging your bets on the midterms but you are correct it has been done by both Democrats & Republicans. So there is virtually no chance it will be done in Pryor’s case.
Hopefully the administration had enough sense to have more then Pryor interview with the Indiana senators so they can get a nominee announced by August. I remember the Andre Mathis hearing. They said multiple candidates interviewed with the Tennessee senators for that red state so hopefully that is the standard that was met in this case.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I just read this from Bloomekatz’s questionnaire. I wonder if senator Rubio’s vote is in play…
“I authored an amicus brief for Senator Marco Rubio in the
Fourth Circuit to support victims of human trafficking.”
LikeLiked by 1 person
There is a clear answer to your question, hell no. Rubio still has Presidential aspirations, and as such he likely will vote no on any high profile judicial nominee. I don’t expect Rubio to vote for J. Michelle Childs, let alone Rachel Bloomekatz.
Rubio may say some nice things about her though, and then say that he unfortunately is unable to vote for her because she is a “liberal activist”.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Yea Shawn that’s most likely correct. He is my senator & I know he has no spine at all. Hell even senator Kennedy voted for Andre Mathis 5 feet away from his home state senator that was complaining she wasn’t consulted. Of course she was lying through her teeth but still Kennedy show d some courage. Rubio has never done that. I can’t even think of one time.
Looks like there will be some movement on the Third Circuit Court on Wednesday.
“During Wednesday’s session, Senator Schumer is expected to move to discharge the nomination of Arianna J. Freeman, of Pennsylvania, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Third Circuit, from the Judiciary Committee.”
LikeLiked by 1 person
I was beginning to think Schumer removed the word discharge from his vocabulary. He sure has removed confirmation from it when it comes to circuit court nominees. de Alba was confirmed today. That’s a grand total of ONE judge confirmed in two weeks. The best we can hope for is he at least voted for cloture on two circuit court nominees Thursday so they can be confirmed the Monday after their two weeks off. But I doubt we will even get that.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I agree. I hope he has a master plan that will get these nominees confirmed. It really does not look like it though.
LikeLiked by 1 person
source? I don’t see it on senate cloakroom or the Senate’s website.
Looks like it was posted late last night
LikeLiked by 1 person
I saw it on https://www.dailypress.senate.gov/
LikeLiked by 1 person
I would say these are the best appellate court judges (candidates for an A+) from Democratic Presidents from JFK onwards.
JFK: Arthur Goldberg (SCOTUS), Thurgood Marshall (2nd and SCOTUS), J. Skelly Wright (DC)
LBJ: George C Edwards (6th), Donald Lay (8th), Gerald Heaney(8th),
Carter: A. Leon Higginbotham (3rd), Damon Keith (6th), Jon O. Newman (2nd), Patricia Wald (DC), Abner Mikva (DC), Ruth Bader Ginsberg (DC), Betty Binns Fletcher (9th), Harry Pregerson (9th), Stephen Reinhardt (9th)
Clinton: Rosemary Barkett, Guido Calabresi, David Tatel, Diane Wood, WIlliam Fletcher, Marsha Berzon, Richard Paez
Obama: Nina Pillard, Pamela Harris
Biden: Myrna Perez, Holly Thomas, Nancy Abudu, Rachel Bloomekatz
My choice for best among Circuit Court judges would be one of Wright, Binns Fletcher, Reinhardt, or Berzon. I think some of the Biden judges could be on this list but it’s too early to tell.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Forgot James Dennis, should be on this list under Clinton.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Worst judge under a Democratic President is hard. The reason why is that Clinton and Obama appointed a few Republicans/ conservatives as part of a deal, they would go to the top of this list by default.
Even more difficult is that JFK/LBJ appointed some open racists to mollify Southern segregationist senators to accept liberal judges, and Carter appointed several Southern conservatives as well. All of these are horrible judges, and several would be on par with some of the worst right-wing judges today.
So I’m going to limit my selections to just appellate judges who were intended to be mainstream Democratic judicial appointees. And several bad ones come to mind.
1. Byron White- SCOTUS
2. J. Michelle Childs- DC
3. Jose Cabranes- 2nd
4. Chester Straub- 2nd
5. Christopher Droney-2nd
Question for anybody out there that may be a lawyer or just know the answer. As I’ve said before I am not a lawyer so despite me studying up a lot on the judiciary, from time to time I still come across questions I can ‘t find the answer to.
So, is there any rhyme or reason as to why it takes so long for some nominees to get their commissions after confirmation while others get it relatively quickly?
For example, both Lydia Kay Griggsby & Deborah Boardman were confirmed to the exact same court on the exact same day to the exact same city in the state. Riggsby was confirmed June 16, 2021, while Boardman was confirmed June 23, 2021. Yet Griggsby didn’t receive her commission until more than a month later on July 20, 2021, while Boardman received her two-day slate on June 25, 2021. I can find examples like that on numerous other courts.
Anybody have any idea why there’s such a difference in time between confirmation & receiving commissions from different nominees?
I don’t know the answer to that for a fact, but I’ve always assumed that in at least some of the longer cases it’s a personal decision. For example, the confirmed nominee might have a case nearing completion that they feel the need to see through rather than passing it off to a law partner (or another judge, if they’re already a judge on another court).
I could be totally wrong, but that’s my guess. I can’t think of any other compelling reason the commission would take two months or more for some judges.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Yea I guess that makes sense. There has to be a good reason why some judges take months to receive their commissions so that’s a good guess. I’ve met several federal judges in the past. If I meet one again I’ll see if I can ask them that question.
I can see Byron White and Jose Cabranes but J Michelle Childs? All i’ve heard about Childs’ is that she worked a for firm that represented management. in employment cases. She’s been a judge for over 10 years. I haven’t seen or heard anyone cite cases that reflected a pattern of being unfair in employment cases or any other matters.
People have been wetting their pants over Rachel Bloomekatz .She admitted today that she represented management in employment cases. That admission was quite alarming given the fact that Sherrod Brown introduced her to the committee. It also appears Bloomekatz has plenty of experience representing and defending corporations as an associate of Jones-Day. Talking about hypocrisy!
The most disturbing aspect of today’s hearing was letter of “support” sent by members of the Federalist Society How could anyone who claims to be a progressive would seek their approval? Like if their approval is something worth bragging about.
Since Judge Childs was nominated last spring all I heard is that she is “horrible” a “conservative.” People have also attacked James Clyburn too. It’s bizarre.
So, today’s hearing shed some light on Rachel Bloomekatz. She might be okay but “perfect”? I don’t think so/
LikeLiked by 1 person
You are right about some of on this site in regards to what you wrote. Now for me, I have said Childs is horrible & Bloomenkatz is the best circuit court nominee by Biden so far but for different reasons then you mentioned.
I believe Childs is a horrible choice because of her age (55), her not having any real progressive chips in her background, numerous rulings including against the LGBT community pre-Obergefell & because of the court she was nominated to. While I know some on this site argues the DC circuit isn’t any more important then the other non Federal Circuit circuits, I simply disagree. Once KBJ is seated, FIVE of the nine justices will have been nominated to that one court out of the thousands of courts in the country. Throw in there was a vacancy on the 4th in her home state & it just leads me to label this as a horrible pick. But once again I’m just talking political. She certainly is qualified & will in all likelihood be left of center in her rulings, albeit for about 15 to 20 years less then Justin Walker & Bradley Garcia.
Bloomekatz on the other hand had a solid progressive background. Working for Deepak Gupta’s (Who would have been a phenomenal pick instead of Childs) firm, she did a lot of pro bono work for indigent defendants. And her work for Every Town gun safety is just another feather in the progressive cap. I don’t hold conservatives praising her against her just like I never have against Childs, KBJ or any other nominee. And of course her being in her late 30’s only makes her an even more phenomenal nominee in my book.
But I will certainly admit you are correct in your assessment about some of the others on this site. Just wanted to make sure I made my opinion & reasoning clear.
I hear what you are saying. It just depends on what your perspective is on qualifications.There are other courts or even state attorneys general that would be good enough and perhaps even better than anyone who came from the dc circuit. There are simply too many justices chosen from that court.
As for Judge Child’s the trial courts especially in South Carolina are not a place to establish your progressive bonifides. A couple of rulings that go the other way happens with all trial jreudges..
I’m not impressed with these elite law firms operating downtown on the 20th floor. They don’t really represent ordinary people. It’s appellate cases so they don’t know the people who cases they are taking
I prefer trial lawyers and judges over appellate and law professors. I think that’s what Biden’s nominees reflect.
Kevin, I agree with this completely and concur with your Fed Society comment mostly, with the caveat that I am interested in reading their reasoning for their letter of support, since as we have seen several other of Biden’s liberal nominees have appeared at their events, but solely as to have someone representing a different viewpoint in a debate rather than supporting their overall ideals. The clerkship letter for Bloomekatz means little, since as we have seen there is almost no correlation between who someone clerked for and their personal beliefs regarding the law. Both Bloomekatz and Childs are well chosen for their respective courts in my mind because of that professional diversity and ability to understand both sides in an argument (which is also why I am not a big fan of Ho and Vera even as they are somewhat qualified, as they only seemed to understand the side of the defense and be too lenient with defendants during their hearings). With that being said, I am 100% interested in seeing more public defenders and other lawyers (but like you, not law professors unless that is not their main job) representing underrepresented groups being judges, but they need to be understanding to each side. This is also why I am not a big fan of career prosecutors being confirmed to article III judgeships either, as they don’t understand defendants nearly enough in my liking.
I guess one could make argument worst SCOTUS justice pick by a Democratic president could be James Clark McReynolds……That guy was a bigot’s bigot, a very vile judge.
LikeLiked by 1 person
That’s good point about sometimes Democratic presidents make deals – get a more liberal judge confirmed so as long as a more conservative judge gets selected to as part of a deal..
Hell, I think even a FEW liberal District court judges were confirmed in the Trump admin. ie: Lewis Lyman (SDNY), Robert Colville (WDPA) Milton Younge (EDPA) & a couple more…
And I certainly would not be too mad if a more conservative District court seat was filled for South Carolina vacancies…….The WH should try best they can to keep Sen Graham happy……I mean, if he was playing hardball on the Thurs committee votes, 25 MORE judges would have ended in 11-11 votes……Schumer has enough judges (and executive nominees) to discharge, if it wasn’t for Graham, he had far, far more..
LikeLiked by 1 person
Lindsey has quietly helped out Durbin and Schumer quite a bit. I suspect he wants to keep that very quiet, which is why he had such a high profile rebuke of KBJ. I think Michele Childs getting the DC Circuit nomination was (in addition to a gift for Clyburn) a sort of peace offering to Graham to ensure most nominations go fairly smoothly the rest of the year.
I also suspect Biden may be thinking ahead to a future scenario where the senate is narrowly Republican and a SCOTUS seat opens up. Childs may be the only compromise candidate that would get Graham’s (and Collins’ and Murkowski’s) support to get through a 51-49 or 52-48 GOP Senate. Now I’m skeptical that McConnell would play ball at all, but perhaps if it’s January 21, 2025 then it would be tougher to ignore that vacancy.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Knowing how savvy McConnell is as a majority leader, I doubt that Biden would get a vote for any SCOTUS nominee save for someone from the Federalist Society (unless there was somehow a lack of quorum, perhaps).
Remember Republicans like senator Hatch said really nice things about Merrick Garland & even suggested him for the SCOTUS earlier in Obama’s presidency. And they turned on him quicker then a turn style at Yankee Stadium on game day when he was actually nominated.
Garland is MUCH more qualified for the SCOTUS then Childs & is a white male.. If there’s a vacancy with Mitch McConnell as the majority leader we need to come to the realization that it doesn’t matter if it’s January 2023 or 2025, the nominee will not get a vote. The senate GOP is MUCH more conservative now then it was in February 2016. Hell Mo Brooks couldn’t even win an Alabama senate primary last night because he was too liberal. Read that last sentence again. The only hope of a Democrat confirming a SCOTUS is for a Democrat to be majority leader.
There is no way Mitch McConnell would allow a Dem president’s SCOTUS nominee to come to a vote on the senate floor. It’s as simple as that. The only exception I foresee is so untenable as to be improbable: a Republican/FedSoc nominee.
Anyone see the letter from the Federalist Society in support of Bloomekatz that’s been mentioned a couple of times in this hearing?
I imagine they can support her because they know she doesn’t affect the balance of power at all.
The Federalist Society letter of support for Rachel Bloomekatz is not in the SJC site & I can’t find it in line. Perhaps they sent it in yesterday after they posted the nominees so they didn’t update the site.
@ Frank and Dequan, I suspect you are right. But I just wonder if that is perhaps the thought process.
There are a few differences in this hypothetical. Garland wouldn’t have been confirmed even with a floor vote and Graham, Collins, and Murkowski in favor but maybe the calculus would be different if it was 51-49. Also, Graham and Childs are somewhat closer than Hatch and Garland, with both being from the same state and graduates of the same law school.
Anyway, I highly, highly doubt this scenario plays out and even if it did I doubt McConnell would even hold a hearing. But I do think Childs was nominated to the DCC as a favor not only to Clyburn but also Graham to help keep the other nominees flowing.
If you are right that Childs was nominated to the DC circuit instead of the 4th as a personal ask of Graham then I would respect that a Hell of a lot more then if it was because of Clyburn. I still doubt Graham would care if she was on the DC versus 4th, but if he really did push for it then it’s understandable as his YAY votes in the SJC is with the one horrible pick.
I doubt it however because of the Florence Pan pick that followed. I just think this administration isn’t as strategic as many people on this site. As a matter of fact, I remember reading an article last year where Graham was talking about he & the administration are talking about the 4th seat but he’s not sure if they will go with his suggestion. If he said that about the 4th, I highly doubt he was too involved with the DC seat in my opinion.
Observation from todays SJC hearing. Bloomekatz benefitted from senators Cruz & Lee being tied up & not there to question her. I thought she handled senator Blackburns questioning great. My favorite quote of the day was from Senator Kennedy: I trust my fellow poker players but I still cut the cards .
Am I the only one that noticed they never swore in the second panel? I believe their entire testimony wasn’t under oath. Or did I just miss it?
LikeLiked by 1 person
Watching it, I didn’t hear it either.
I do think that was small part of it. I’m from South Carolina and while I’m not an attorney I have many friends who also went to USC School of law. Graham and Childs are both mainstays at alumni functions and there is a connection there. Childs in particular is very well liked in town.
Don’t get my wrong though, much of it was simply a favor to Clyburn and the local black leadership. Good old fashioned you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours.
Anyway, last thing I’ll say about it but I do think she’ll end up being a fine judge and consistently center left in her opinions on the DC Circuit.
Sounds like Republican Kevin Cramer will be out for a while.
Let’s hope we see a move on nominees in the meantime.
Glad to see Freeman discharged. And while I’m eager for more before recess, I can’t argue with them taking floor time to pass the gun bill this week. That’s too important.
Looking ahead, now that it seems Durbin won’t likely ever go to three circuit nominees in one hearing, I’ve sketched out what a future panel schedule might look like for known and still unknown nominees. Some will definitely have to happen after Election Day if they can’t do back to back weeks or during recess. (I’m guessing Durbin is forced to follow certain pre established rules and can’t change them with a 50-50 committee.)
But they can fill all these if they really put the effort in.
-July 13: Pryor and Garcia.
-July 27: Desai and Douglas.
-Sept 7: 2nd CT and 4th MD
-Sept 21: 3rd DE and 3rd PA
-Oct 12: 1st MA and NH
-Nov 9: 9th MT and 4th SC
-Nov 30: 5th TX and 7th IN
-Dec 14: 10th KS (j/k there will never be a nominee…)
LikeLiked by 1 person
Durbin most definitely should hold a hearing during the August recess just as Republicans did. But I think the more likely & probably possibly will be a back to back weeks of hearings at some point. I think that’s more likely then a recess hearing or a hearing with 3 circuit court nominees.
Hopefully next Wednesday Biden will release his 20th batch of nominees. I’m hoping it’s double digits. We really need to start getting nominees for the district court seats in California (9), New York (We have recommendations announced for 3 of the 4 vacancies), Massachusetts (3), Oregon, New Mexico & Washington state (2). It will be a shame if we head into the midterms with no nominees for either of those seats.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I don’t think we’re getting another batch of nominees next week – since KBJ, they’ve gotten into the rhythm of releasing them 28 days before their SJC hearing (or I guess more for Pryor). Unless Schumer keeps the Senate in session in August (highly doubt it, since Sinema needs to go fundraise in Europe/”intern” at a wine company/whatever else she does on taxpayers’ dime), Ben’s right that the next hearing will be on 9/7. I wouldn’t expect any nominees until early August, but I’d love the administration to prove me wrong.
I’m still hoping Schumer keeps the senate in later in Aug, just like Republicans did in 2018, also a mid term year.
Schumer just filed to discharge Hernan Vera. Ok who is this man & what have they done with the real Chuck Schumer? Haaaaa
LikeLiked by 1 person
Best wishes to senator Kramer. He will definitely be out the rest of the week which might be why we are getting discharges finally.
LikeLiked by 2 people
Did anyone else notice right at the end of the first panel just as Sen Durbin was saying to the nominees there may be written questions and to follow up promptly, Sen Cruz came in, and check out the reaction by Durbin..
Vera has been discharged. Schumer just filed for Jessica Clarke to be discharged. We may soon find out if Dale Ho has the votes by the end of the week hopefully. This is the time to do it with senator Kramer out for the rest of the week & possibly even after the two week recess.
As to the earlier question regarding the best circuit court judges ever, as I said I’m not a lawyer nor have I ever been to law school so I haven’t studied them all. But I wanted to give a honorable mention to some that haven’t been mentioned by anybody on this site yet.
The “Fifth Circuit Four” (Judges Wisdom, Tuttle, Brown and Rives) & Frank Minis Johnson we’re all leading judges during the civil rights movement in the late 1900’s. I believe one even got their house fire bombed. So for all the talk about how conservative the 5th circuit is now, I wanted to make sure I mentioned them from the past. They were brave & phenomenal judges.
Interesting news about Paul Clement , a SCOTUS short lister for both Trump & GW Bush. I also believe he was the lawyer that won the SCOTUS case over turning the New York gun restrictions law today.
The senate is done until July 11th….Schumer filed cloture on 4 Executive nominees, no judicial…..He took big step forward this week with the 3 discharge votes, then takes 5 steps back by not filing cloture before a 2 week recess….
Can Senator Whitehouse take over as Majority Leader
I hope the senators enjoy their two weeks off. Not like anything pressing is going on in our country that needs their attention( Sarcastic voice). Let’s hope they didn’t over work themselves this week with their 2 & a half day work week…smh
It’s 1 step forward, and 5 steps back
I am confused as well. Perhaps he is waiting until that first Monday back when he know who will be in DC before filing cloture on everyone. I noticed that he filed only for enough nominees to fill up Monday and Tuesdays votes
Pingback: The Unexpected Opportunity – Assessing the Landscape of Judicial Vacancies | The Vetting Room