.Following up on our postiing about U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Bryer, we wanted to share with you the following excerpts from news and commentary sent to us by the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University Law School
September 24, 2010.
1.. On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee again voted to approve four of President Obama’s nominees for federal judgeships. Goodwin Liu, a Berkeley law professor for the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Louis Butler Jr., a former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice, U.S. Magistrate Judge Edward Chen of California, and lawyer John McConnell Jr. of Rhode Island – all of whom had been previously approved by the Senate panel but never received a final vote on the Senate floor – were approved along party lines. The Blog of Legal Times says the vote indicates a partisan showdown in the weeks before the heated mid-term elections. Two opposing editorials illustrate how divisive the issue is: a New York Times editorial recently blasted “An Extreme Judicial Blockade” by Senate Republicans while a Washington Times editorial stated that a “GOP Senate [is] needed to block bad judges.”
David Ingram, Democrats Push Forward On Goodwin Liu, Other Judge Nominees, The Blog Of Legal Times, September 23, 2010; An Extreme Judicial Blockade, The New York Times, September 22, 2010; Editorial: GOP Senate Needed To Block Bad Judges, Washington Times, September 15, 2010.
2.. “These delays are excessive . . . . The timeliness of information enhances its value. If un-elected administrators can impose an arbitrary 10-day waiting period, what’s to stop them from deciding 30 days or three years might be even better?” So says an editorial in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which decries the difficult and slow process of obtaining judicial disclosure statements. The topic of judges’ disclosures of their financial holdings – and whether those holdings should disqualify judges from ruling on specific cases – received national attention earlier this year after the public discovered that the federal judge tasked with ruling on the Obama administration’s deepwater drilling moratorium held shares of Exxon Mobil. According to the Associated Press, a routine disclosure statement from the judge, Martin Feldman, revealing his oil industry stock ownership, would have signaled a potential conflict of interest in the drilling case – but wasn’t available because “Judges’ disclosures [are] hard to get.” The article juxtaposes judicial disclosure statements with those filed by legislators and concludes that while the public can read Senators’ and House members’ statements from a computer, concerned citizens should “be prepared to wait” to see a federal judge’s disclosure statement because it can take two weeks for such a report to be provided, the reports are not posted on the judiciary’s website, and judges are notified when someone asks for a copy.
Mark Sherman, Inside Washington: Judges’ Disclosures Hard To Get, Associated Press, September 20, 2010; Editorial: Waiting Period, Las Vegas Review-Journal, September 22, 2010.