Judges, Judges, Judges! Act Now, Before the Senate Does

In another wild and wacky day in our nation’s Capitol, one topic other than war and the budget on the Senate’s agenda was federal judicial nominations, and what to do with no less than five different nominees to the federal appellate courts. The nominee furthest along in the process, Miguel Estrada, nominated to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, saw lots of talk and no action today, as Senate Democrats continued their filibustering efforts to prevent a vote before Estrada answers key unanswered questions about his judicial philosophy. (See NY Times article. Free registration required.) Four additional nominees, Jeffrey Sutton, Deborah Cook, John Roberts, and Jay Bybee, were all set to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee for a vote. Bybee, a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals nominee whose vote had not been previously scheduled (any Senator may invoke a one-week delay the first time a nominee is scheduled), was held over until the next meeting of the Judiciary Committee, which may or may not be next week. (The Senate was supposed to be in recess next week, but the Estrada filibuster could prevent that from happening.) The votes on Cook (6th Circuit) and Roberts (DC Circuit) were held over until the next committee meeting after an obscure rule preventing votes from taking place more than two hours after the beginning of the Senate day was invoked. Neither Cook nor Roberts had the opportunity for much questioning at their January 29th Judiciary Committee hearing, which lasted over twelve hours and mostly focused on the record of 6th Circuit nominee Jeffrey Sutton, and so Democrats asked for more time and information before a vote took place. Sutton’s nomination is the only one which saw a vote today, as he was approved by the committee on a 11-8 vote, with Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) crossing party lines to vote in support of the Sutton nomination. (See Washington Post article). Activists vowed to carry on the fight against Sutton’s nomination to the Senate floor (See Alliance for Justice press release); Senator Feinstein, in particular, is likely to be subjected to a great deal of pressure to change her vote and oppose Sutton.

With all of today’s action on judges, it’s a perfect opportunity to introduce our site’s new Workplace Fairness Action Center. You now can make your voice heard immediately on the issues workers care about most, in five minutes or less. Here you can find your elected officials and email them on workplace issues or any other issues that are important to you. This is also the place where you can learn more about current issues and legislation and look up media contacts in your local area. We already have a number of alerts focused on many of today’s judicial nominees, so we invite you to take action now!

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Madeline Messa

Madeline Messa is a 3L at Syracuse University College of Law. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in journalism. With her legal research and writing for Workplace Fairness, she strives to equip people with the information they need to be their own best advocate.