Courts

Trump picks young judge likely to court controversy for open seat on federal appeals court in D.C.

President Trump plans to nominate Judge Justin Walker, 37, for the federal appeals court in D.C., making him the youngest nominee since the 1980s to the nation’s premier federal appellate court. Judge Walker’s nomination comes under one year after his controversial confirmation to a lower court, which attracted criticism from opponents who viewed him as too young and lacking experience. The American Bar Association ranked Judge Walker as “not qualified” last year because of his fewer than 12 years practicing law. Prior to the Senate’s 50-41 vote to confirm him in October 2019, Judge Walker was a law professor at the University of Louisville in Kentucky and a litigator in private practice. He previously clerked for retired Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy and Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh on the federal appeals court in D.C. that Judge Walker now seeks to join. During Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation battle for the Supreme Court, Judge Walker was an ardent defender of Justice Kavanaugh in media appearances on television and in print. Now, he could soon face similar scrutiny to some of Mr. Trump’s other judicial nominations for reasons beyond his relatively young age. Judge Walker is a devout Catholic, an attribute that has come under fire from the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Democratic members. In 2017, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the committee’s top-ranking Democrat, chastised Judge Amy Coney Barrett, then a judicial nominee for a Midwestern federal appeals court, for her Catholic faith and said, “The dogma lives loudly within you.” From a young age, Judge Walker was mentored by a cousin that was a Benedictine monk, and he could face the same treatment as Judge Barrett, according to a source with knowledge of the judicial selection process. Judge Walker’s Kentucky roots may also rub the Washington legal establishment the wrong way. While he has clerked at the Supreme Court and federal appeals court in D.C. and is a graduate of Harvard Law School, his Kentucky pedigree is far from the norm for judges on the federal appeals court in D.C.

And, that’s probably a very good thing!  Judge Walker has all of the necessary resume blocks checked.  He got his bachelors from Duke suma cum laude, and his law degree from Harvard.  Then he clerked for the Supreme Court.  And, he’s a sitting federal jduge.  That’s more than Justice Elena Kagan had, and she’s sitting on the U.S. Supreme Court without any prior judicial experience whatsoever!!  What the self-righteous, hypocritical Democrats in the Senate will have issues with are the fact that he’s a Catholic (which would, again, show Sen. Dianne Feinstein D-CA, and the rest of them, to be religious bigots), and that he’s a white, heterosexual, married man from the south.  Can’t have that in this pc-gone-crazy era.  And, that’s also why the extremely liberal ABA gave him a “not qualified” rating last year; not because of his “fewer than 12 years practicing law.”  Gimme a flippin’ break.  It was probably because he’s a member of the Federalist Society, which is a great organization, and one we think is a positive for any judge!  From what we can glean, Judge Walker, like his predecessor Judge Brent Kavanaugh, is extremely well-qualified for this new position, and we hope the Senate confirms this excellent Trump nomination without delay.

Coronavirus: Federal Judge Rules Migrants Must Stay in Detention Center

A federal judge in Seattle rejected three nonprofits’ effort to force U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to release migrants in a detention center in Washington state because of the threat from coronavirus. U.S. District Judge James L. Robart on Thursday denied a request for a restraining order requested by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of Washington, and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. The organizations argued that holding migrants who are older or have underlying medical conditions puts them at high risk for contracting the virus. “There is no evidence that anyone at NWDC has COVID-19, and plaintiffs do not address the measures defendants are taking to prevent such a spread from occurring,” Robart said in a Law360 article on the development. Law360 reported on the ruling: ” Attorneys have told Law360 that they are concerned ICE is not prepared to handle a potential outbreak of the virus at the agency’s detention centers, where immigrants are trapped in communal spaces. ICE has been hit with numerous lawsuits accusing it of not providing detainees with adequate medical care, including an August complaint alleging the agency has been failing to ensure centers operated by private contractors are meeting the standards of confinement mandated by federal law and the U.S. Constitution.” Eunice Cho, an attorney for migrants, issued a statement vowing continued litigation. “Public health officials are in agreement — it is not a matter of if there is a COVID-19 outbreak in immigrant detention centers, but when,” Cho said. “ICE should heed their warning. By refusing to immediately release our clients, ICE is jeopardizing their lives and the lives of its staff and their families.” Law 360 reported that ICE responded Wednesday to the request for the restraining order, but the filing is not being made public. The case is Dawson v. Asher, No. 2:20-cv-00409 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.

Thanks to Judge Robart for this well-considered decision, especially given the current paradigm.

Appeals court hands Trump win in sanctuary city fight, says administration can deny grant money

A federal appeals court on Wednesday handed a major win to the Trump administration in its fight against “sanctuary” jurisdictions, ruling that it can deny grant money to states that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York overturned a lower court ruling that stopped the administration’s 2017 move to withhold grant money from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program, which dispenses over $250 million a year to state and local criminal justice efforts. “Today’s decision rightfully recognizes the lawful authority of the Attorney General to ensure that Department of Justice grant recipients are not at the same time thwarting federal law enforcement priorities,” a DOJ spokesman said in a statement. “The grant conditions here require states and cities that receive DOJ grants to share information about criminals in custody. The federal government uses this information to enforce national immigration laws–policies supported by successive Democrat and Republican administrations.” “All Americans will benefit from increased public safety as this Administration is able to implement its lawful immigration and public safety policies,” the statement said. The latest decision conflicts with rulings from other appeals courts across the country concerning sanctuary policies, indicating a Supreme Court review is ultimately likely. New York City and liberal states including New York, Washington, Massachusetts and Connecticut sued the government, and the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York backed them — ordering the money be released and stopping the government from putting immigration-related conditions on grants. But the appeals court ruled that it “cannot agree that the federal government must be enjoined from imposing the challenged conditions on the federal grants here at issue.” “These conditions help the federal government enforce national immigration laws and policies supported by successive Democratic and Republican administrations,” the court ruled. “But more to the authorization point, they ensure that applicants satisfy particular statutory grant requirements imposed by Congress and subject to Attorney General oversight.” It also disagreed with the district court’s claim that the conditions intrude on powers reserved only to states, noting that in immigration policy the Supreme Court has found that the federal government maintains “broad” and “preeminent” power. The ruling marks a key win for the administration in its efforts to crack down on the continued use of “sanctuary” policies that limit local law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration authorities in order to shield illegal immigrants from deportation.

Kudos to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals for their well-considered ruling.  I understand it was a unanimous decision too.

 

Supreme Court rules for Border Patrol agent in suit filed by Mexican family over cross-border shooting

A divided Supreme Court ruled Tuesday in favor of a Border Patrol agent who faced a lawsuit from parents of a Mexican child he killed in a June 2010 cross-border shooting. Jesus Mesa Jr. and the parents of 15-year-old Sergio Adrián Hernández Güereca gave different accounts of what happened, with the parents claiming the teen and his friends were playing a game where they ran back and forth across the border, and Mesa claiming they threw rocks at him during an illegal border-crossing attempt. The Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling said that regardless of the circumstances, precedent regarding lawsuits against officers, known as “Bivens claims,” does not apply to cross-border shootings. “As we have made clear in many prior cases,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in his opinion, “the Constitution’s separation of powers requires us to exercise caution before extending Bivens to a new ‘context,’ and a claim based on a cross-border shooting arises in a context that is markedly new.” In the 1971 opinion Bivens v. Six Unknown Fed. Narcotics Agents, the Supreme Court held that a person claiming they were unlawfully arrested and searched could bring a lawsuit under the Fourth Amendment, even if there was no statutory basis for it. In Tuesday’s opinion, Alito noted the high standard of extending Bivens to a “new context” and gave several reasons why it was inappropriate in this case. The first factor was the impact a lawsuit in such a case could have on foreign relations. “A cross-border shooting is by definition an international incident; it involves an event that occurs simultaneously in two countries and affects both countries’ interests,” Alito wrote. “Such an incident may lead to a disagreement between those countries, as happened in this case.” The U.S. had determined that Mesa should not face criminal charges or be extradited to Mexico. “To avoid upsetting the delicate web of international relations, we typically presume that even congressionally crafted causes of action do not apply outside our borders,” the opinion said. “These concerns are only heightened when judges are asked to fashion constitutional remedies. Congress, which has authority in the field of foreign affairs, has chosen not to create liability in similar statutes, leaving the resolution of extraterritorial claims brought by foreign nationals to executive officials and the diplomatic process.” Alito also pointed to concerns with the court getting involved with matters of national security. “Since regulating the conduct of agents at the border unquestionably has national security implications, the risk of undermining border security provides reason to hesitate before extending Bivens into this field,” he said. The court also pointed to Congress’ history of not awarding damages in cases against federal officials where the injuries took place outside the U.S. While Mesa was on American soil at the time, Hernández was on the Mexican side of the border when Mesa shot him. In a concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas asserted that “the time has come to consider discarding the Bivens doctrine altogether,” noting that the court “has consistently refused to extend the Bivens doctrine for nearly 40 years, even going so far as to suggest that Bivens and its progeny were wrongly decided.”

Even though a split decision, it was the right one.

After impeachment acquittal, Senate confirms another Trump court pick over Dem objections

Minutes after Chief Justice John Roberts gaveled out President Trump’s impeachment trial, which had consumed the Senate for almost three weeks, Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., got right back to what he’s said is his top priority — confirming judges. Less than half-an-hour after TV networks cut away from the Senate to dive into the ramifications of the body acquitting Trump, McConnell filed cloture on the nomination of Judge Andrew Brasher to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, a procedural step that moved the controversial nominee one step closer to confirmation. The Senate took the next step to confirming Brasher with a 46-41 cloture vote Monday, then confirmed him 52-43 on Tuesday. Progressive groups, which have opposed many Trump nominees, cried foul over the move. “Last Wednesday, a narrow majority of the Senate voted to cover up the president’s actions. Immediately after the vote to betray our democracy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell turned right back to nominations,” said Lena Zwarensteyn, the Fair Courts campaign director for The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “McConnell is staying the course on shielding the president’s actions from checks and balances and stacking the courts with nominees who have records of hostility to civil and human rights, particularly voting rights.” Others on Monday a conference call with reporters that was organized by the liberal group included Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., former Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum and NAACP Alabama State Conference President Bernard Simelton. They said Brasher has a history of fighting against voting rights, gay rights, women’s health care and environmental protection. “Voting rights are at the very foundation of civil liberties and civil rights in our society, and we should be doing everything possible to protect and defend them,” Coons said. “I’m gravely concerned that Judge Andrew Brasher, if confirmed to the Eleventh Circuit, would only continue the efforts to roll them back. Judge Brasher’s record and lack of candor during his confirmation hearing show that he is unfit for this appellate judgeship in the Eleventh Circuit, and I will be voting no.” The 38-year-old Brasher is Trump’s 51st judge confirmed to the appeals courts and 188th overall, according to a Heritage Foundation count. He was confirmed to the Middle District Court of Alabama last year and was previously the Alabama Solicitor General, a job in which he argued before the Supreme Court and the 11th Circuit, the bench Trump and Senate Republicans would like him to join. Also a former white-collar criminal defense lawyer and civil litigator, Brasher received a unanimous “Well-Qualified” rating from the American Bar Association for his nomination to the 11th Circuit. Republicans have been supportive of Brasher’s nomination, which saw a cloture vote split on party lines with no defections either way. “Andrew Brasher is an outstanding choice to serve as a district judge for the Middle District of Alabama,” Sen. Richard Shelby said when Brasher was confirmed to his district court post in May. “His judicial temperament and vast legal experience make him well-suited to assume this new role.” Shelby was just as supportive of the judge when Trump nominated him to the 11th Circuit in November.

Another Trump judicial nominee confirmed by the Senate, and the left is losing its mind because he is eminently qualified.  He even got his law degree, cum laude, from Harvard.  But he’s a member of the Federalist Society and a solidly conservative judge.  Er go why the left is losing its mind.  Gotta love that!  Kudos to Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for getting another excellent judge confirmed in the Senate!  For more, click on the text above.     🙂

Supreme Court refuses to ‘Free the Nipple’ in topless women case

The Supreme Court on Monday decided not to hear an appeal by three women fined by a city in New Hampshire for exposing their breasts in public who argued that banning female but not male toplessness violates the U.S. Constitution. The justices left in place a 2019 ruling by New Hampshire’s top court upholding the women’s convictions for violating an ordinance in the city of Laconia that makes it illegal to show female breasts in public “with less than a fully opaque covering of any part of the nipple.” The women – Heidi Lilley, Kia Sinclair and Ginger Pierro – were involved in the “Free the Nipple” movement, which court papers described as campaigns against “sexualized objectification of women” and in favor of women being able to go topless in public if they wish. Pierro was arrested on a beach on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee in May 2016 where she was performing yoga while topless. Lilley and Sinclair were both arrested days later while topless on another beach where they were protesting Pierro’s arrest. The three women were given suspended fines of $100 each, on condition of subsequent good behavior. Among the legal arguments made by the women is that any law that punishes women for exposing their breasts while allowing men to go shirtless violates the Constitution’s 14th Amendment, which requires that laws be applied equally to everyone. The New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled that the ordinance did not discriminate against women, noting that it bars nudity of both men and women. The different definition of what constitutes nudity is based on “the traditional understanding of what constitutes nudity,” that court concluded. Laconia is located about 25 miles (40 km) north of Concord, the capital of New Hampshire.

This is one of those cases that nobody really wanted to deal with.  Even the ladies were given suspended $100 fines and told to behave.  And the Supremes rightfully let stand the NH Supreme Court’s ruling.  The ruling in effect said, “nudity in public is against the law in NH, and yes..the bodies of men and women ARE different.  Get over it.”  Agreed.

Senate confirms Justin R. Walker for District Judge

The Senate confirmed a former clerk to Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, who was a staunch defender of his boss during the controversial hearings last year, for the federal bench Thursday over Democrats’ concerns the pick lacked enough trial experience to be a judge. Justin Walker was confirmed to the U.S. Western District of Kentucky by a 50-41 vote. He became the 110th district court judge appointed by President Trump. Mr. Walker teaches legal writing at the University of Louisville. He previously clerked for Justice Kavanaugh when he sat on the federal appeals court in Washington and clerked at the Supreme Court for now-retired Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. During Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings, Mr. Walker appeared regularly on network television to defend his former boss’s record and reputation after the nominee faced allegations of sexual misconduct. Justice Kavanaugh vehemently denied any wrongdoing. “For those of us who know Justin Walker and have seen his work up close it’s clear that President Trump made an outstanding choice to be a district judge for the Western District of Kentucky,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday. “Mr. Walker has sharpened his legal skills at the highest levels.”

Many of the Senate Dems who voted against Mr. Walker’s nomination due to “lack of experience” as a judge, were the very same Senators who supported then Pres. Obama’s appointment of Elena Kagen to the U.S SUPREME COURT, and she had never served a day in her life as a judge.  Typical hypocrites.  The Dems just can’t stand that President Trump has put another young (he’s 37 years old), conservative judge on the federal bench with a lifetime appointment.  Elections DO have consequences, and its driving them insane, lol.  We wish Judge Walker the very best in his new position.