Courts

Two new confirmations bring Trump’s circuit judges to 21

The Senate confirmed two more of President Trump’s appeals court nominees Tuesday, bringing his total to 21 circuit judges placed on the bench in his 16 months in office. President Obama only had nine circuit court judges approved at this point in his tenure. Joel Carson III, a part-time magistrate judge in New Mexico, was confirmed to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by a 77 – 21 vote, and John Nalbandian, a Kentucky lawyer, was confirmed to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals by a 53 – 45 vote. The Senate Judiciary Committee plans to consider another circuit court nominee and five district court nominees Thursday…Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said Mr. Trump and Senate Republicans are trying to stack the courts with extremists. He said two of the picks being reviewed in committee demurred when asked if the Supreme Court correctly decided Brown v Board of Education, the case that ended segregation in schools. He was referencing Andrew Oldham, a nominee to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and Wendy Vitter, a nominee to the Eastern District of Louisiana. Both refused during their confirmation hearings to weigh in on whether Supreme Court precedent had been rightly decided, citing judicial ethics.

U.S. Supreme Court Overturns Sports Gambling Ban

The U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) moved to allow the state of New Jersey to legalize sports betting at its racetracks and casinos, on Monday. The new rule could open sports gambling in up to 46 states. The 7-2 SCOTUS ruling in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association shot down federal rules that prohibited sports gambling in most U.S. states. The case was brought to the high court after the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that a New Jersey law allowing gambling violated the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), Sports Illustrated reported. Many states, including New Jersey, have been eyeing sports gambling as a new source of tax revenue, but until now federal rules have stood in the way. While many state legislatures are pleased with the new ruling, the major professional leagues have taken a stance against the growth of sports gambling and filed several lawsuits against New Jersey to try and stop its move towards enlarging gambling. A recent statement from the various sports leagues player’s unions addressed the impact of gambling on players. “Given the pending Supreme Court decision regarding the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) … The time has come to address not just who profits from sports gambling, but also the costs. Our unions have been discussing the potential impact of legalized gambling on players’ privacy and publicity rights, the integrity of our games and the volatility on our businesses,” the Players Associations said in January. To date, only Nevada, Delaware, Oregon, and Montana are allowed sports gambling and are exempt from PASPA due to previously passed betting laws. Justice Samuel Alito, a New Jersey native, wrote the court’s opinion in the case. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented, USA Today reported. “Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each state is free to act on its own,” Alito wrote. “Our job is to interpret the law Congress has enacted and decide whether it is consistent with the Constitution. PASPA is not.” Geoff Freeman, president of the American Gaming Association, celebrated the ruling: “Today’s decision is a victory for the millions of Americans who seek to bet on sports in a safe and regulated manner. Today’s ruling makes it possible for states and sovereign tribal nations to give Americans what they want: an open, transparent, and responsible market for sports betting.”

Senate Republicans confirm Trump judicial nominee, overruling home-state Democrat

For years, senators have been able to effectively block judicial nominees from their home states through what’s known as the “blue slip” process. But on Thursday — amid Republican frustration over many of President Trump’s nominees being blocked — Senate Republicans decided to override one such objection from a Democratic senator and confirm the nominee anyway. Milwaukee attorney Michael Brennan was confirmed to fill an opening on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin had stalled Brennan’s nomination. The seat has been open for more than eight years, the longest for the nation’s appellate courts. Until this year, it had been nearly three decades since the Senate confirmed a judge without two positive blue slips. Brennan’s confirmation marked the second time it has happened this year. The maneuver comes as Senate Republicans are racing to confirm as many federal judges as they can before November’s midterm elections when control of the Senate could flip to Democrats. The Senate gives lawmakers a chance to weigh in on a judicial nominee from their home state by submitting a blue-colored form called the “blue slip.” A positive blue slip signals the Senate to move forward with the nomination process. A negative blue slip, or withholding it altogether, signals a senator’s objection and almost always stalls the nomination. The move to go ahead with a hearing for Brennan and a vote on the floor had Democrats complaining that Republicans were eroding one of the few remaining customs in the Senate that forced consultation on judicial nominations. They also noted that Republicans used the blue slip to block one of President Barack Obama’s nominees for the very same judgeship. “I’d admonish my friends on the other side of the aisle, this is a very dangerous road you’re treading,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. “As everyone knows, the winds of political change blow swiftly in America. The minority one day is the majority the next.” But Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Democrats’ complaints were based on an incorrect understanding of the blue slip’s history. “The blue slip courtesy is just that — a courtesy,” Grassley said. He said past chairmen of the committee had rarely used negative or unreturned blue slips as unilateral vetoes. The most recent exception was Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who was chairman during the first six years of Obama’s presidency. “That was his prerogative,” Grassley said. Still, the blue slip has been in use for more than a century and only a handful of judges have won confirmation during that time without two blue slips. Grassley said that under his tenure, the blue slip will be used to ensure the president consults with home-state senators, but not as a veto for appellate court nominees. He said he was satisfied in Brennan’s case that the White House consulted with both of Wisconsin’s senators before the president nominated him. Republicans have made it a priority to confirm the president’s nominees, particularly those who will serve on federal appeals courts. It’s a top issue with social conservatives leading into this year’s midterm elections. With Democrats slow-walking many of Trump’s nominees, McConnell said last October that the blue slip process should not be used to “blackball” nominees. “We’re going to confirm these judges. I don’t care what tactics they employ,” McConnell recently told Fox News’s Martha MacCallum.

New York doctor pleads guilty in fatal abortion

A New York doctor who says he’s done 40,000 abortions is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to criminally negligent homicide in the 2016 death of a woman who was six months pregnant and bled to death. The case in Queens Criminal Court marks one of the rare legal instances of criminal prosecution of a doctor over a medical error, but Assistant District Attorney Brad Leventhal said that Dr. Robert Rho’s mistakes went beyond civil malpractice. “It’s about greed and arrogance,” Leventhal told jurors last week during closing arguments in the month-long trial. He said 30-year-old Jaime Lee Morales “bled to death because this defendant did nothing.” Rather than call an ambulance, prosecutors said, Rho released Morales for her sister to drive her home in the Bronx, despite signs she was in grave condition and had collapsed in a bathroom of Rho’s clinic. Morales fell unconscious in the car. Medics responding to a 911 call took her to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Rho’s attorney reached a plea deal with prosecutors Friday after jurors said they were deadlocked. It spares the 53-year-old physician from facing up to 15 years in prison on the original charge of second-degree manslaughter, equivalent to reckless homicide. Instead, Rho admitted he was negligent with Morales’ abortion, leaving her bleeding uncontrollably with a severed uterine aorta, ripped cervix and pierced uterine wall. The lesser charge comes with prison time of up to four years. But Rho’s attorney, Jeffrey Lichtman, says he may end up with only months in prison when he is sentenced on June 26. Lichtman called it a “monumental victory.” Rho, who lives with his family in the Lake Success section of Great Neck, on Long Island, was arrested in October 2016, three months after Morales died. Morales, who lived in Buffalo, New York, had come to Rho’s clinic in the Flushing section of Queens with her sister, desperate to get an abortion, for which Rho charged $6,000, witnesses said. She had only learned a week earlier that she was pregnant. Profuse post-operative bleeding forced the doctor to perform another procedure that did not fix the damage, prosecutors said. Lichtman said the botched abortion was a tragedy but was not a crime. He said Morales never told Rho that she suffered from medical conditions that made her prone to more intense bleeding. After her death, the doctor closed his clinic and surrendered his medical license. Americans United for Life, an anti-abortion law firm and advocacy group based in Washington, issued a statement Friday saying that Morales’ family “received some measure of justice,” but “the truth is that the type of behavior described in the Rho trial — not following best medical practices, using untrained staff, failing to properly monitor vital signs, not maintaining a sterile environment, etc. — are all very common in abortion clinics across America.” Even before Morales’ abortion, the doctor had been investigated by state officials over concerns that he was performing procedures improperly and using assistants who lacked medical training, witnesses said at the trial. The last criminal prosecution in New York over a mishandled abortion was in 1995, when obstetrician David Benjamin was convicted of murder after a patient bled to death from a rip in her uterus during an abortion. Philadelphia doctor Kermit Gosnell was convicted in 2013 of involuntary manslaughter after a patient got a fatal overdose of sedatives during an abortion. He also was convicted of murder for performing extremely late-term abortions, snipping the spines of infants born alive during the procedures.

Trump elevates one of his district court judges to circuit court post

President Trump on Thursday nominated Judge A. Marvin Quattlebaum Jr. to a seat on a federal appeals court, looking to give him a promotion just weeks after he won his district judgeship. Mr. Trump first tapped Judge Quattlebaum last year to be a judge in South Carolina, and he was confirmed March 1 on a 69-28 vote. Now Mr. Trump wants him on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He was one of nine judicial picks — three for appeals courts, five for district courts and one for the federal claims court — that the White House announced Thursday. Julius “Jay” N. Richardson, who works for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina, was also nominated to the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, and Judge Richard J. Sullivan of the Southern District of New York, was nominated to the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. The 4th Circuit used to be the most conservative appeals court in the country, but was almost completely reshaped by President Obama’s appointments. Mr. Trump’s two picks could begin to restore some balance. Judge Quattlebaum sailed through his confirmation hearing last year, but faced significant — though not overwhelming — opposition from Senate Democrats in his vote last month. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said he couldn’t support the nominee, who is white, because he was taking a seat that two blacks had previously been nominated to by Mr. Obama, but never got votes in the Senate. “The nomination of Marvin Quattlebaum speaks to the overall lack of diversity in President Trump’s selections for the federal judiciary,” Mr. Schumer said at the time. “It’s long past time that the judiciary starts looking a lot more like the America it represents.”

So, to be clear…  If you’re white, then Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will muster the Senate Dems to vote against you.  And who is the real racists here?  Yeah…  Exactly..

Judge rules Trump’s DACA phaseout legal

A federal judge ruled Monday that President Trump’s phaseout of the Obama-era DACA program is legal, adding heft to the administration’s defense but doing little to solve the ongoing court quagmire. The ruling does not overturn two other federal courts, who had previously blocked the phaseout, which was supposed to take effect Monday. But it does offer a needed boost as the Justice Department appeals those other two rulings. Judge Roger W. Titus, a Bush appointee to the bench in Maryland, said the judges in California and New York who blocked the phaseout attempted to substitute their own judgments for that of the Homeland Security Department, crossing constitutional lines in order to strike at Mr. Trump’s policies. Judge Titus went even further, praising the Trump administration for the way it handled the situation with a six-month phaseout. “This decision took control of a pell-mell situation and provided Congress — the branch of government charged with determining immigration policy — an opportunity to remedy it. Given the reasonable belief that DACA was unlawful, the decision to wind down DACA in an orderly manner was rational,” the judge wrote. DACA is the 2012 program Mr. Obama created, using executive authority, to protect hundreds of thousands of “Dreamers” from deportation and to give them a foothold in society. Some 683,000 people were being protected as of Jan. 31. But the program was always legally questionable, and Mr. Trump last September, facing threats of lawsuits from Texas and other states, announced his phaseout, with a final deadline of March 5.

This story is developing..  For more, click on the text above.

Chuck Schumer votes against Trump judicial nominee…because he’s white

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer faced a stern rebuke from congressional colleagues for citing skin color in voting against a white federal judge nominee earlier this week. Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the Senate floor Wednesday that the nomination of Marvin Quattlebaum, a white lawyer who is a partner at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough in Greenville, S.C., “speaks to the overall lack of diversity in President Trump’s selections for the federal judiciary.” He complained that many of Trump’s nominees have been white males. He also complained that Republicans previously held up two black judges nominated under the Obama administration for the position— which The Post and Courier notes has long been vacant. “It is long past time that the judiciary starts looking a lot more like the America it represents,” Schumer said. “Having a diversity of views and experience on the federal bench is necessary for the equal administration of justice.” The senator said that with Quattlebaum’s nomination, the Trump administration was “taking a giant step backwards” in terms of diversity. Quattlebaum was ultimately confirmed to the district judgeship on Thursday, 69-29. Republican lawmakers, meanwhile, slammed Schumer for his statements. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Thursday it was actually Schumer’s vote against Quattlebaum that was “a massive step backward.” While Schumer “is not a racist,” Graham tweeted, “this was an absolutely shameful reason to vote against a very qualified nominee like Marvin Quattlebaum.” He added, “Voting against a highly qualified nominee because of the color of his skin does nothing to bring our country and nation together.” Sen. Tim Scott, also a Republican serving South Carolina and the GOP’s sole black senator, tweeted, “Perhaps Senate Democrats should be more worried about the lack of diversity on their own staffs than attacking an extremely well-qualified judicial nominee from the great state of South Carolina.” Schumer asserted that the only reason Quattlebaum was nominated for the unoccupied position was because the state’s Republican senators didn’t return their “blue slips” — a blue form used by senators to voice approval or disapproval for a home state nominee — for Obama nominees Alison Lee and Don Beatty in 2013. Democrats have said that Republicans used blue slips to block about 18 of Obama’s nominations, arguing the denial of a hearing for a nominee without two blue slips was fine with Republicans then. Democrats said the policy shouldn’t change just because the person who sits in the White House is different. Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., countered on Twitter that Lee’s nomination “was withdrawn because of a significant bond issue” and Beatty eventually was appointed as the Chief Justice of the state’s Supreme Court.

And who, exactly is the real racist here?  Exactly…  Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is notorious for shamelessly playing the race card.  Looks like it may have backfired just a little this time..  Regardless, another very qualified Trump nominee has been confirmed, despite the outrageous, hypocritical, and offensive political posturing by Chuck Schumer.  Congrats to this new judge!