Results matching “butler mcconnell”

President Obama has renominated 42 judicial candidates returned to the White House after the Senate adjourned on Dec. 22. His list contains the four controversial nominees we've been tracking: Edward Chen, Goodwin Liu, Louis Butler, Jr., and John "Jack" McConnell.

Missing from the list, however, is Robert Chatigny, previously nominated to the Second Circuit.

The list of the nominations starts on Page 3 of The Congressional Record's Daily Digest.

Time for new generation of "Schoolhouse Rocks" videos, this one on how a federal judicial wins confirmation ... or doesn't. You could illustrate it with a symbolic black-robed figure walking up and down Pennsylvania Avenue, back and forth between the White House and the Senate. Or perhaps something more modern: The candidate could use the Pennsylvania Avenue bike lane to cycle between the two locations, with Chatigny sidelined with a flat.


Earlier posts.

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Judicial confirmations - PointOfLaw Forum

At the end of the day, Obama did pretty well for himself with judicial confirmations compared to other presidents, and to the extent he didn't, it's because he made only 41 nominations for 92 pending vacancies. Goodwin Liu, Louis Butler, and John McConnell were not among the confirmed. [Whelan; Kerr @ Volokh]

News reports: Senate to move on judicial nominations - PointOfLaw Forum

AP reports: "WASHINGTON -- After a monthslong blockade, Senate Republicans have agreed to let at least 19 of President Barack Obama's non-controversial judicial nominees win confirmation in the waning days of the congressional session in exchange for a commitment by Democrats not to seek votes on four others, according to officials familiar with the deal."

The AP only cites Goodwin Liu, nominated to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) last week identified the other three to The National Law Journal: Edward Chen, nominated to the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California; Louis Butler Jr., nominated to District Court for Wisconsin; and John "Jack" McConnell, the Motley Rice partner and Democratic contributor nominated to the District Court for Rhode Island.

Robert Chatigny, nominated to the Second Circuit, has not been reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

UPDATE (Tuesday, 10 a.m.): News coverage:  

No omnibus, but sneakiness looms as Congress leaves - PointOfLaw Forum

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has pulled the $1.1 trillion, 1,924-page omnibus spending bill after Republicans withdrew their support because of the now politically noxious earmarks. But we think it was Hans von Spakovsky's report that sealed the legislation's fate. Thursday afternoon, the Heritage Foundation's legal maven posted this at National Review Online, "In the Omnibus Bill, a Treat for the Litigation Industry":

Only God and Harry Reid know all of the goodies and unpleasant surprises tucked into the 2,000-page omnibus spending bill being crammed through Congress, but there's at least one gift for community organizers and ambulance-chasing tort lawyers: pages 199-200 of the bill, which contain funding for the Legal Services Corporation.

For years, liberals used the semi-government corporation to pursue lawsuits advancing their political and social causes, until a 1996 reform put a stop to most of the abuses. Lawyers funded by the LSC were prohibited from pursuing class-action lawsuits; engaging in political activities; challenging welfare reform and abortion restrictions; or representing illegal aliens.

However, as the "Explanation" accompanying the spending bill explains at page S9399 of the Congressional Record, Title V of the omnibus lifts the ban on class-action lawsuits and will "permit the use of funds" to file such actions.

It was the final straw!

Even without the omnibus, there's plenty of opportunity for legislative mischief as Congress winds up within the next week. There's a continuing resolution to fund the government, which one assumes will be clean, but maybe not. Sen. Reid this morning stressed his desire to move on nominations, again citing Deputy Attorney General nominee James Cole as a priority. Many judicial nominations have also been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee and could receive floor action, including controversial candidates like Goodwin Liu, Edward Chen, Jack McConnell and Louis Butler Jr. (Robert Chatigny, nominated to the Second Circuit, never did get a committee vote.) The closing hours of a session often see the approval of a long slate of nominees.

Congress' departure is no guarantee of calm on the civil justice front, either. With Republicans in control of the House, the plaintiffs' bar is expected to turn to the Executive Branch to achieve its goals. Tax breaks for trial lawyers? As The Washington Times reported this week in a Page One story, "Changes on Hill bode ill for trial lawyers":

Tiger Joyce, president of the Washington-based American Tort Reform Association, said the trial lawyers group still has support from congressional Democrats who survived the midterm elections, but he thinks industry lobbyists will shift their "liability expansion" efforts toward "friends throughout the executive branch."

Mr. Joyce noted that the group has started a campaign through the Treasury Department to get a tax break that will allow trial lawyers to deduct costs advanced to clients immediately. Repeated attempts to persuade Congress to enact the tax break, valued at an estimated $1.6 billion over 10 years, have failed.

So many judicial nominees, so little time - PointOfLaw Forum

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, gave a Senate floor speech Wednesday protesting the slow pace of judicial confirmations. Leahy inserted into The Congressional Record a Slate article on the issue by Dahlia Lithwick and Carl Tobias.

Leahy's remarks could be seen as laying the groundwork for a move by the majority Democrats to force a vote on pending judicial confirmations. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) bruited such a move to the Blog of the Legal Times for the most controversial nominees, Rhode Island trial lawyer John "Jack" McConnell, Louis Butler of Wisconsin, Goodwin Liu of California for the 9th Circuit, and Edward Chen for the Northern District of California. The WSJ's Law Blog also reports, "Lame Duck Senate Looking to Act on Controversial Judges."

The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on the nomination of 12 federal judges this morning, including the controversially beleaguered and embattled Robert Chatigny to the Second Circuit.

Conservatives groups sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Reid on Monday urging him not to push any executive branch nominations during the lame-duck session, citing the mentioned judicial candidates as among "the most egregious."

So Sen. Leahy's remarks Wednesday could be rallying the troops for the fight. Oh, they could have been just be another floor speech. Before he spoke, Sen. Christopher Bond (R-MO) made a brief speech about S. 3538, the National Cyber Infrastructure Protection Act. After Sen. Leahy, Sen. Ron Wyden commemorated National Home Care and Hospice Month.

UPDATE (12:35 p.m.): The Judiciary Committee postponed action on all the judicial nominees.

The Senate will keep the 'Fringe Five' controversial judges - PointOfLaw Forum

Senate Majority Leader Reid and Minority Leader McConnell that worked out an arrangement that will prevent President Obama from making recess appointments before the Senate returns to session after the November elections.

As in 2008 when Sen. Reid blocked recess appointments by President Bush, the Senate will hold brief pro forma sessions twice a week. By these regular meetings, the Senate avoids being recessed for a long enough period that the President's appointment authority would go into effect. Such is the claim, at any rate. You would think a leader of the Executive Branch would challenge the limits on its authority.

With the agreement, Senate Republicans also allowed the five controversial judicial nominees that were sent back President in August to remain under Senate consideration. Thus, President Obama will not have to renominate his controversial judges: Edward M. Chen, District Judge for the Northern District of California; Louis B. Butler, Jr., Western District of Wisconsin; John J. "Jack" McConnell, Jr., to District of Rhode Island; Goodwin Liu, to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit; and Robert N. Chatigny, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Second Circuit.

Senate Judiciary votes out controversial judicial nominees - PointOfLaw Forum

From today's business meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee:

  • Kathleen M. O'Malley, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Federal Circuit, Ordered Reported By Voice Vote
  • Beryl A. Howell, to be United States District Judge for the District of Columbia, Ordered Reported By Voice Vote
  • Robert L. Wilkins, to be United States District Judge for the District of Columbia, Ordered Reported By Voice Vote
  • Edward M. Chen, to be United States District Judge for the Northern District of California, Ordered Reported By Roll Call Vote, 12-7
  • Louis B. Butler, Jr., to be United States District Judge for the Western District of Wisconsin, Ordered Reported By Roll Call Vote, 12-7
  • John J. McConnell, Jr., to be United States District Judge for the District of Rhode Island, Ordered Reported By Roll Call Vote, 13-6
  • Goodwin Liu, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit, Ordered Reported By Roll Call Vote, 12-7
  • Robert N. Chatigny, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Second Circuit, Held Over

UPDATE (4:45 p.m.): It's the bottom five on that list, the "fringe five," who are the disputed candidates. News coverage, commentary ...

The five controversial federal judicial candidates President Obama re-nominated on Tuesday were moved without any new hearings -- which would be superfluous, to be sure -- to the Senate Judiciary Committee's schedule for a vote at today's business meeting, but then action was held over until next week. The five are: Edward M. Chen, District Judge for the Northern District of California; Louis B. Butler, Jr., Western District of Wisconsin; John J. "Jack" McConnell, Jr., to District of Rhode Island; Goodwin Liu, to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit; and Robert N. Chatigny, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Second Circuit.

The Washington Times weighed in on the judges in an editorial, "GOP Senate needed to block bad judges," objecting most vigorously to Chatigny and Chen. The Providence Journal covers the local story, "McConnell renominated to federal judgeship."


President tries again on controversial judicial nominees - PointOfLaw Forum

From the White House, Sept. 13, "Presidential Nominations Sent to the Senate":


Louis B. Butler, Jr., of Wisconsin, to be United Stated District Judge for the Western District of Wisconsin, vice John C. Shabaz, retired.

Robert Neil Chatigny, of Connecticut, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Second Circuit, vice Guido Calabresi, retired.

Edward Milton Chen, of California, to be United States District Judge for the Northern District of California, vice Martin J. Jenkins, resigned.

Goodwin Liu, of California, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit, vice a new position created by Public Law 110-177, approved January 7, 2008.

John J. McConnell, Jr., of Rhode Island, to be United States District Judge for the District of Rhode Island, vice Ernest C. Torres, retired.

In accordance with Senate rules, the Senate returned the nominations to the President in August when it recessed. Republicans refused to suspend the rules to allow these specific nominations to be carried over.

Earlier posts here.

With the Senate heading into a month-long recess when it adjourned last Thursday, Senate rules required either a unanimous consent to hold over nominees or the nominations had to be returned to the White House. The judicial nominees who were sent back were the most politically controversial ones, objected to by Senate Republicans (as well as business groups and critics of judicial activism).

  • John J. McConnell, Jr., of Rhode Island, to be United States District Judge for the District of Rhode Island.

  • Goodwin Liu, of California, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit.

  • Robert Neil Chatigny, of Connecticut, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Second Circuit.

  • Edward Milton Chen, of California, to be United States District Judge for the Northern District of California.

  • Louis B. Butler, Jr., of Wisconsin, to be United States District Judge for the
    Western District of Wisconsin.

Also returned to the President was Mary L. Smith, of Illinois, to be an Assistant Attorney General, nominated to head the tax division at Justice.

Butler, Chen (and Smith) went through the same process at the end of 2009, and President Obama renominated them all. Renomination remains the most likely course of action this time, as well, but the President could also make recess appointments -- good through the end of 2011 -- or withdraw the nominations. Recess appointments are rarely used for judicial nominees, though.

Democratic Senators defended all these judicial nominations in a series of floor speeches on July 29. (See POL, "Senate moves slowly ...") Jim Copland wrote about the Liu, Butler and McConnell nominations last May in this POL post.

Senate moves slowly ... - PointOfLaw Forum

The Washington Post today revisits a perennial story, that of the speed with which the Senate is confirming judicial nominations, "Senate moves slowly in confirming Obama's lower-court judicial nominees."

The story comes in the wake of Democrats taking to the Senate floor last Thursday, July 29, to demand confirmation votes on President Obama's federal judicial nominees. Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) led the colloquy, starting on page S6476 of The Congressional Record.

Sen. Russell Feingold of Wisconsin praised Louis Butler Jr., the former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice nominated for the U.S. District Court, Western District of Wisconsin. As this Wall Street Journal editorial recalls, voters in 2008 kicked Butler off the state Supreme Court, in part because of his liberal rulings against medical liability reform and his invention of "collective liability" for paint manfacturers. President Obama nominated him to the federal court in Oct. 2009 and renominated him last January.

Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed of Rhode Island were also exercised about Republicans preventing a vote on John "Jack" McConnell, the Motley Rice attorney and Democratic contributor nominated to the U.S. District Court. Whitehouse attacked the U.S. Chamber of Commerce by name, posing the rhetorical question, "Do we want to let powerful out-of-State interests trump the better informed views of home State Senators about district court nominees? That is not the tradition of this body. I again ask my colleagues: Is this the tradition they want to set? If they open the door to out-of-State special interests trumping the considered judgment of home State Senators on district court nominees, will they ever get that door closed again? I submit it is a mistake for this body to go that road."

Alternatively, do we want Senators' parochial and political interests to always trump the public's objections to judicial nominees whose qualifications are solely political? Is that the road we want to go down?

Sen. Udall asked for unanimous consent several times to move the pending judicial candidates, with Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) objecting. Two other controversial nominees who were stopped were Goodwin Liu to be a Ninth Circuit judge and Robert Chatigny to be on the Second Circuit. (Page S6486.)

Addendum: Originally appointed by Gov. Mike Doyle to the state Supreme Court to fill a vacancy, Justice Louis Butler was defeated in April 2008 for a full term by Burnett County Circuit Judge Michael Gableman. The expensive, rough-and-tumble campaign offended "good government" types, and Gableman became the target of a complaint based on one truthful TV ad. Last month the Wisconsin Judicial Commission decided not to take any action.

At NRO this morning, I argued that it was important to keep an eye on judicial nominations other than Elena Kagan's to the Supreme Court:

[I]n 1986, the Democrats in the Senate were so focused on attacking William Rehnquist -- whom Ronald Reagan had chosen to elevate to chief justice of the Supreme Court -- that they made nary a noise about Reagan's pick to succeed Rehnquist as an associate justice. Thus it was that Antonin Scalia was confirmed to sit for life on the highest court in the land with 98 senators in favor, and none against.

It's incumbent on those of us who care about the judiciary to keep this in mind as the nation's attention focuses on Elena Kagan. Only a tiny fraction of cases decided by the appellate courts are granted review by the Supreme Court, which means that those lower appellate benches are usually the courts of last resort in the federal system. And because so many cases never make it even that far, federal trial courts wield enormous power, too.

I focused on three nominees of concern:

  • Goodwin Liu, my law school classmate (see previous posts on this site);

  • Louis Butler, of Wisconsin Supreme Court lead paint and med-mal fame (see ealier posts here); and

  • Jack McConnell, the plaintiffs' lawyer who was Senator Sheldon Whitehouse's symbiotic partner in Rhode Island's $3 billion-lead-paint-verdict fiasco (see posts here, and earlier writings here and here).

Liu's nomination was voted out of the Judiciary Committee today on a straight (12-7) party-line vote.

Our readers may recall that Butler's nomination also passed out of Judiciary last year on a 12-7 party-line vote but wasn't acted upon by the full body; and that the president resubmitted his nomination this January.

McConnell's hearings before Judiciary were scheduled for this afternoon. As Carter reported, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce came out strongly against this nomination on Tuesday, and my piece today in NRO was joined by critical editorials in the Washington Times and American Spectator.

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