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U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) (L-R), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) hold a news conference after bipartisan passage of stopgap budget and debt legislation at the U.S. Capitol in W
The Senate confirmed three new U.S. District Judges Tuesday morning: Salvador Mendoza for the Eastern District of Washington on a 92-4 vote; Staci Yandle for the Southern District of Illinois on a 52-44 vote, and Darrin Gayles for the Southern District of Florida on a 98-0 vote. The Alliance for Justice notes in an emailed press release that these are groundbreaking votes.
Today, Judge Darrin Gayles became the first openly gay African-American man to serve on the federal bench. In addition, Judge Staci Michelle Yandle, an openly gay African-American woman, and Judge Salvador Mendoza have dedicated their careers to fighting for the rights of individual plaintiffs and indigent criminal defendants.
These votes—one of which was unanimous and one that only had four in opposition—were also dragged out by Republicans as long as possible, with forced cloture votes on all of them. This is the latest Republican tactic for making sure the Democratic leadership gets as little accomplished as possible.

In spite of that, and thanks to the filibuster reform Senate Democrats finally adopted, the Senate has started eating into the huge number of vacancies on the federal bench, shrinking them "to their lowest level since days after Obama took office."

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 10:04 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (31+ / 0-)

    "The NSA’s capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything. [...] There would be no place to hide."--Frank Church

    by Joan McCarter on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 10:04:22 AM PDT

  •  I love to watch Chuck Grassley......'This nominee (6+ / 0-)

    sucks!'

    •  Now if we could just get a Supreme Court vacancy.. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      filby

      Then we would be taking a HUGE step forward...

      Not that I'm wishing ill health or death on anyone mind you...

      •  Scalia could retire to go on the comedy circuit... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rukidingme

        Scalia could retire to go on the comedy circuit. He'd be the new Andrew Dice Clay!

      •  I'm not wishing ill health on any of them, but ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bob Love

        I'm not wishing ill health on any of them, but if a rube on SCOTUS kicks the bucket I definitely won't be sobbing into a pillow anytime soon.

      •  Scalia very obviously will never retire as long (0+ / 0-)

        as a Democrat is in the White House.  He would be 88 at the end of a two-term Hillary presidency, almost as old as John Paul Stevens was when he left; we'd have to see whether he could last that long.

        Anthony Kennedy, I'm not sure about.  He's the same age as Scalia, and while his moderation is overstated by some, he's probably the position where his replacement is unlikely to satisfy him on all points of ideology unless they go rogue from their appointing president's intent to at least some degree.  I think he might be willing to retire during a Democratic presidency.  The more pressing issue with him retiring would be that at present as the swing justice he basically gets to decide what the law is in virtually all close cases, which is a dream position for most jurists, and he may not want to give it up.

        •  Yeh, I'm kinda pessimistic about getting to (0+ / 0-)

          replace one of the conservative 5 and therefore putting a Democratic majority on the Court anytime soon. It really sucks, b/c there's no really realistic way that we are going to overturn or in some way "fix" the dreadful "Citizens United" decision without replacing one of the conservative justices. I don't see a legislative fix like a constitutional amendment or a poison pill like the DISCLOSE Act as even remotely likely in our political environment/system.

          I think the only way it happens is if Scalia, Kennedy or Thomas die of natural causes under a President Hillary or whoever.

          "Heck, make it 61 so we can tell Lieberman to go play in traffic." - Geotpf

          by Deano963 on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 10:47:33 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Bruce Braley, who is running for the Senate seat (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      filby

      that Tom Harkin currently holds, got in some trouble by pointing out, if the Republicans take control of the Senate, the next chair of the Judiciary Committee would likely be, “a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school.” (i.e. Grassley). Some in Iowa took that as an insult to Iowa farmers. I think it's a very important reason to make sure that Democrats retain control of the Senate. Grassley as chair of Judiciary is a scary thought indeed.

  •  We Have Only to Look at Courts re: Marriage Equal- (12+ / 0-)

    ity to see why Republicans place little else of higher political urgency than locking progressives out of the judiciary.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 10:17:55 AM PDT

  •  Is good. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    filby, CenPhx

    If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

    by CwV on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 10:19:10 AM PDT

  •  Guaranteed to cause GOP head explosions: (12+ / 0-)
    Today, Judge Darrin Gayles became the first openly gay African-American man to serve on the federal bench. In addition, Judge Staci Michelle Yandle, an openly gay African-American woman, and Judge Salvador Mendoza have dedicated their careers to fighting for the rights of individual plaintiffs and indigent criminal defendants.
    A gay black man and a black lesbian.  I think that pretty much signals "the end of the world as we know it" for the GOP base.

    "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

    by FogCityJohn on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 10:32:29 AM PDT

    •  McCain's head exploded already (6+ / 0-)

      when the Dems changed the rules to allow enable the Senate to perform its Constitutional obligation.

      From the AP story linked in the diary:

      Republicans say they're protesting last November's power play by Democrats, who unilaterally reduced the number of votes needed to end filibusters, or procedural roadblocks, from 60 to a simple majority, usually 51. As a result, the 53 Democrats plus two independents who generally side with them no longer need a handful of GOP votes to approve most nominations.

      That change was "a despicable and black act that will live in history," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

      FWIW, Clarence Thomas was confirmed by a vote of 52-48.

      There's no such thing as a free market!

      by Albanius on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 12:09:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  why was (8+ / 0-)

    Yandle's only 52-44? That final margin really stands out among the others.

    "It's almost as if we're watching Mitt Romney on Safari in his own country." -- Jonathan Capeheart

    by JackND on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 10:33:22 AM PDT

  •  The tide is turning (11+ / 0-)

    From the article cited in the diary:

    Thanks to the push, Obama has appointed 261 appeals and district court judges - all of them lifetime positions - filling nearly a third of the entire federal judiciary since entering the White House.
    ...
    Before he entered the White House, Republican presidents had been appointing judges for 20 of the previous 28 years.
    Bold added for emphasis.

    If we elect a Democratic President for 8 more years, we will have about 2/3rds of the Judiciary due to appointments for 24 of 32 years.

    This is important.

    There was only one joker in L.A. sensitive enough to wear that scent...and I had to find out who he was!

    by virginislandsguy on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 11:33:42 AM PDT

    •  And if those appointees are young enough (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      corwin, virginislandsguy, cocinero

      they could be in line for SCOTUS in about 12 tears or so to replace folks like Clarence Thomas (who'll be in his mid-70s).

      There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

      by Cali Scribe on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 11:59:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The problem with replacing Clarence Thomas is t... (4+ / 0-)

        The problem with replacing Clarence Thomas is that you could put a cardboard cutout in his chair and not be able to tell the difference.

        •  Very, very true..... (0+ / 0-)

          which is why we would ideally replace him with another Ginsburg (my fav Justice). Paul Watford or Goodwin Liu would be freakin awesome.

          "Heck, make it 61 so we can tell Lieberman to go play in traffic." - Geotpf

          by Deano963 on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 11:02:11 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Obama needs to be strategic about SCOTUS age (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bob Love

        to balance the right wing practice.

        The following were among the youngest Justices ever appointed: Renquist (48), Scalia (50), Thomas (43), Kennedy (52), Roberts (50).

        Kagan like Roberts and Scalia was 50 at appointment; Sotomayor was 55 but diabetic and an orphan - I hope improved treatment will keep her alive and healthy for decades.

        If I were POTUS in the present environment, I would consider only candidates with 2 healthy parents, preferably also living grandparents, and a reliably progressive philosphy of jurisprudence. Of course she should meet the usual criteria: temperament, ability and accomplishments, not necessarily including judicial experience. Earl Warren was CA Attorney General and Governor.

        There's no such thing as a free market!

        by Albanius on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 12:36:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  No matter how gridlocked Obama's legislative (6+ / 0-)

    agenda, it is even MORE important to bring his judiciary nominations up to par in what remains of his term.  These appointments have repercussions that outlast 6 or 8 presidencies.

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 11:49:08 AM PDT

    •  Couldn't agree more. It is indescribably important (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lgmcp

      for him to fill as many District and Appellate Court seats as possible before his term is up. Same to be said for whichever Democrat gets sworn into office in 2017.

      Everyone always talks about wanting Ginsburg to retire so a Dem Prez could replace her, but I also think that it's equally as important for the older Democratic appointees on the DC Circuit to retire under a Democratic President. We have a 7-4 advantage on the court now, but the senior status judges are 5-1 republican, and if Obama replaced the two oldest Dem appointees, who I believe are 74 and 73, I would lock in a Democratic majority of active judges for at least three decades.

      "Heck, make it 61 so we can tell Lieberman to go play in traffic." - Geotpf

      by Deano963 on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 11:08:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Back in the early days (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bob Love, ProgressiveOldMan

    of trying to reform the Senate confirmation process, perhaps before 2012, there was some or other ruling that supposedly favored the Dems, but was really pretty toothless. In the wake of this ruling, somebody commented that the wattles on Mitch McConnell's neck "flushed with pleasure" at the news about the Dems' then-failure.

    Are those wattles livid today?

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 11:59:00 AM PDT

  •  good to hear they're getting somewhere (2+ / 0-)

    An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

    by mightymouse on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 12:10:31 PM PDT

  •  actually really appreciate yr. keeping us (3+ / 0-)

    up to speed on this.

    this is very important.

    the Dems did a good thing here.

    An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

    by mightymouse on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 12:13:05 PM PDT

  •  Et sursum, Et deinceps (0+ / 0-)

    Now, if Orrin Hatch, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul can't muster up a reason to vote against you (even as a way to throw a bone to the seemingly-re-ascendant Tea Bagger republicans), you gotta be damn near a saint!

    Lest we believe in the fantasy of a softening Right in American politics, please allow me to disabuse you of that wide-eyed notion.  Packed into the second piece of glorious news, it should be noted that President Obama's nominee-now-appointee Staci Yandle, had a bit tougher time getting through.  

    Despite Yandel's having received a federal judicial nominee rating of “unanimously qualified” from the American Bar Association, the U.S. Senate squeaked the nomination through by a vote of 52-44 (with every present republican Senator--including Yandle's home state senator, Mark Kirk--voting "No", and every present Democratic senator--except Kirk's close friend, Joe Manchin of West Virginia--voting "Yes").  Soon-to-be Judge Yandle becomes only the second black lesbian federal judge.  The first was Deborah A. Batts, nominated by President Clinton in 1994, who is currently the senior federal judge serving on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

    I guess old (white-mostly-male) dogs still have a hard time giving up their old tricks.

    'Twas ever thus, I suppose.

    Still, I'd like to concentrate on the fact that, in these two instances anyway, the 21st century won the day today, and the U.S. inches onward and upward.

  •  blow up wingnut heads everywhere (0+ / 0-)

    Obama should nominate 85 candidates all at the same time, and tell Harry to confirm them all in one fell swoop.

    Wouldn't tht be fun! limpball's head would explode all over that solid tin microphone.
     

    •  Nice thought (0+ / 0-)

      Can't be done. We still have rules in the Senate that nominations have to be done one at a time with the maximum delay between votes. That time is supposed to allow for full debate, but in fact there isn't any. We just have to wait.

      Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

      by Mokurai on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 06:33:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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