Author

Sara Reynolds

Sara Reynolds is a staff writer at Ballotpedia and can be reached at sara.reynolds@ballotpedia.org

U.S. Senate confirms four U.S. District Court nominees

The U.S. Senate has confirmed four nominees to U.S. District Court judgeships. Overall, the Senate has confirmed 156 of President Trump’s Article III judicial nominees—two Supreme Court justices, 43 appellate court judges, 109 district court judges, and two U.S. Court of International Trade judges—since January 2017. At the end of the 115th Congress in January 2019, the Senate had confirmed 85 of the president’s judicial nominees.
 
The confirmed nominees were:
 
  • David Novak, confirmed to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. After he receives his judicial commission and takes his oath, the court will have one vacancy, five Republican-appointed judges, and five Democrat-appointed judges.
  • Frank Volk, confirmed to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia. After he receives his judicial commission and takes his oath, the court will have no vacancies, two Republican-appointed judges, and three Democrat-appointed judges.
  • Charles Eskridge III, confirmed to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. After he receives his judicial commission and takes his oath, the court will have one vacancy, 10 Republican-appointed judges, and eight Democrat-appointed judges.
  • Rachel Kovner, confirmed to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. After she receives her judicial commission and takes her oath, the court will have four vacancies, five Republican-appointed judges, and six Democrat-appointed judges.
 
Three of the nominees—Kovner, Novak, and Volk—were confirmed nearly unanimously with the Senate voting 88-3, 89-3, and 92-0, respectively. The Senate vote to confirm Eskridge was closer at 61-31.
 
There are 94 U.S. District Courts. They are the general trial courts of the United States federal court system.
 


SCOTUS to hear four cases this week

We #SCOTUS, so you don’t have to

Arguments

The Supreme Court will hear arguments in four cases this week. Click here to read more about SCOTUS’ current term.

In its October 2018 term, SCOTUS heard arguments in 69 cases. Click here to read more about SCOTUS’ previous term.

Click the links below to read more about the specific cases SCOTUS will hear this week:

October 15

  • Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico v. Aurelius Investment, LLC, concerns the U.S. Constitution’s Appointments Clause. The case is consolidated with Aurelius Investment, LLC v. Puerto RicoOfficial Committee of Debtors v. Aurelius Investment, LLCUnited States v. Aurelius Investment, LLC, and UTIER v. Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico.

    In 2016, Congress enacted the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act. The act created the Financial Oversight and Management Board and authorized the board to begin debt adjustment proceedings on behalf of the Puerto Rico government. After the board began proceedings in 2017, Aurelius Investment, LLC, (“Aurelius”) and the Unión de Trabajadores de la Industria Eléctrica y Riego (“UTIER”) challenged the board’s authority in U.S. District Court, arguing the board members’ appointment violated the Constitution’s Appointments Clause. The District of Puerto Rico ruled against Aurelius and UTIER. On appeal, the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court in part, holding the board members “must be, and were not, appointed in compliance with the Appointments Clause.”

    The issue: Whether the Appointments Clause governs the appointment of members of the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico.

October 16

  • In Kansas v. Garcia, Ramiro Garcia, Donaldo Morales, and Guadalupe Ochoa-Lara were convicted of identity theft in Johnson County, Kansas. In each case, prosecutors used Social Security numbers found on I-9 and W-4 employment forms. Garcia, Morales, and Ochoa-Lara appealed their convictions, arguing the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) preempted their prosecution. On appeal, the Kansas Supreme Court reversed the three convictions.

    The issue: (1) Whether IRCA expressly preempts states from using any information entered on or appended to a federal Form I-9. This includes common information such as name, date of birth, and Social Security number, in a prosecution of any person (citizen or alien) when that same, commonly used information also appears in non-IRCA documents, such as state tax forms, leases, and credit applications. (2) Whether the Immigration Reform and Control Act indirectly preempts Kansas’ prosecution of Garcia, Morales, and Ochoa-Lara.

  • In Rotkiske v. Klemm, Kevin Rotkiske accumulated credit card debt between 2003 and 2005. Rotkiske’s bank referred the matter to Klemm & Associates (Klemm) for collection. Someone accepted service for a debt collection lawsuit on Rotkiske’s behalf without his knowledge. Klemm obtained a default judgment of approximately $1,500. Rotkiske sued Klemm for violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), arguing the statute of limitations to file a suit begins when the plaintiff knows of his injury. On appeal, the 3rd Circuit rejected Rotkiske’s argument, affirming the ruling of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and holding that the statute of limitations begins to run when the defendant allegedly violates the FDCPA.

    The issue: Whether the one-year limitation period on a statute of limitations begins to run when a potential plaintiff violates the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, as the 3rd Circuit has held, or begins to run when a potential plaintiff discovers a violation, as the 4th and 9th Circuits have held.

  • In Mathena v. MalvoLee Boyd Malvo was convicted in 2004 of committing homicides in 2002, when he was 17 years old. Malvo was sentenced to four life terms without parole. In 2012, SCOTUS held in Miller v. Alabama that juvenile defendants could not be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. In 2016, SCOTUS held in Montgomery v. Louisiana that the rule it established in Miller was retroactive.

    After Malvo filed applications for writs of habeas corpus relief, the district court vacated the four terms of life imprisonment and remanded the case for resentencing. On appeal, the 4th Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling.

    The issue: Did the 4th Circuit err in concluding—in direct conflict with Virginia’s highest court and other courts—that a juvenile sentenced to life without parole is entitled to a new sentencing proceeding following SCOTUS’ 2016 decision in Montgomery v. Louisiana?

Upcoming SCOTUS dates

Here are the upcoming dates of interest in October:

  • October 15: 
    • SCOTUS will hear arguments in one case.
    • SCOTUS will release orders.
  • October 16: SCOTUS will hear arguments in three cases.
  • October 18: SCOTUS will conference. A conference is a private meeting of the justices.
  • October 21: SCOTUS will release orders.

SCOTUS trivia

Parties petition SCOTUS to hear a case if they are not satisfied with a lower court’s decision. What do the parties petition the court to grant?

  1. A writ of certiorari
  2. A writ of habeas corpus
  3. A preliminary injunction
  4. Summary judgment

Choose an answer to find out!

Federal court action

Confirmations

The Senate has not confirmed any nominees since our October 7 issue. 

The Senate has confirmed 152 of President Trump’s judicial nominees—105 district court judges, 43 appeals court judges, two Court of International Trade judges, and two Supreme Court justices—since January 2017.

Nominations

President Trump has not announced any new Article III nominees since our October 7 edition.

The president has announced 224 Article III judicial nominations since taking office Jan. 20, 2017. The president named 69 judicial nominees in 2017 and 92 in 2018. For more information on the president’s judicial nominees, click here.

Federal judicial nominations by month chartVacancies

The federal judiciary currently has 107 vacancies. As of publication, there were 40 pending nominations.

According to the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts, an additional 16 judges have announced their intention to leave active judicial status during Trump’s first term.

For more information on judicial vacancies during Trump’s first term, click here.

Vacancies on the Circuit Courts

The following table lists the number of vacancies on the United States Court of Appeals from President Trump’s inauguration to the date of publication.

Vacancies on the Circuit Courts

Committee action

The Senate Judiciary Committee has not reported any new nominees out of committee since our October 7 edition.

Do you love judicial nomination, confirmation, and vacancy information? We figured you might. Our monthly Federal Vacancy Count, published at the start of each month, monitors all the faces and places moving in, moving out, and moving on in the federal judiciary. Click here for our most current count.

Need a daily fix of judicial nomination, confirmation, and vacancy information? Click here for continuing updates on the status of all federal judicial nominees.

Or, if you prefer, we also maintain a list of individuals President Trump has nominated.

Court in the spotlight

In each issue of Bold Justice, we highlight a federal court you should know more about. Right now, we’re taking a closer look at the 94 U.S. District Courts. The district courts are the general trial courts of the U.S. federal court system.

There is at least one judicial district for each state, and one each for Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.  

In this edition, we’re placing a spotlight on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York. The Northern District of New York has original jurisdiction over cases filed in the following counties in the northern part of the state:

  • Albany County
  • Broome County
  • Cayuga County
  • Chenango County
  • Clinton County
  • Columbia County
  • Cortland County
  • Delaware County
  • Essex County
  • Franklin County
  • Fulton County
  • Greene County
  • Hamilton County
  • Herkimer County
  • Jefferson County
  • Lewis County
  • Madison County
  • Montgomery County
  • Oneida County
  • Onondaga County
  • Oswego County
  • Otsego County
  • Rensselaer County
  • Saratoga County
  • Schenectady County
  • Schoharie County
  • St. Lawrence County
  • Tioga County
  • Tompkins County
  • Ulster County
  • Warren County
  • Washington County

Decisions of the court may be appealed to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Northern District of New York has five authorized judgeships. There is currently one vacancy. The breakdown of current active judges by appointing president is:

  • Barack Obama (D): Two judges
  • George W. Bush (R): One judge
  • Bill Clinton (D): One judge


Washington Supreme Court Chief Justice Fairhurst is retiring

On October 3, Washington Supreme Court Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst announced her intention to retire on January 5, 2020, for health reasons.
 
Fairhurst was first elected to the Washington Supreme Court in 2002 and then re-elected in 2008 and 2014. She became the chief justice in 2016. Fairhurst previously served in the Washington attorney general’s office and as a law clerk for Washington Supreme Court Judges William H. Williams and William C. Goodloe. She earned both her undergraduate degree in political science in 1979 and her J.D. in 1984 from Gonzaga University.
 
Selection of state supreme court justices in Washington occurs through gubernatorial appointment. The appointee serves until the next general election, at which point he or she may run to serve for the remainder of the predecessor’s term. Fairhurst’s term expires in January 2021.
 
Otherwise, the nine justices of the supreme court compete in contested elections without reference to party affiliation and must run for re-election when their six-year terms expire.
 
The Washington Supreme Court is the court of last resort in the state. It currently includes the following justices:
 
  • Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst – elected
  • Justice Mary Yu – initially appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee (D)
  • Justice Debra Stephens – initially appointed by Gov. Christine Gregoire (D)
  • Justice Steven Gonzalez – initially appointed by Gov. Christine Gregoire (D)
  • Justice Susan Owens – elected
  • Justice Charles W. Johnson – elected
  • Justice Barbara A. Madsen – elected
  • Justice Charlie Wiggins – elected
  • Justice Sheryl Gordon McCloud – elected
 
In 2019, there have been 19 supreme court vacancies across 13 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. Of those 19 vacancies, 12 are in states where a Republican governor appoints the replacement. Six vacancies occurred in a state where a Democratic governor fills vacancies, while another occurred in a state where a Republican-controlled legislature appoints replacements.
 
Fairhurst’s retirement is the first upcoming supreme court vacancy to take place in 2020.
 


SCOTUS begins 2019-2020 term

We #SCOTUS, so you don’t have to

Arguments

The Supreme Court will hear arguments in five cases this week. Click here to read more about SCOTUS’ current term.

In its October 2018 term, SCOTUS heard arguments in 69 cases. Click here to read more about SCOTUS’ previous term.

Click the links below to read more about the specific cases SCOTUS will hear this week: 

 

October 7

  • In Kahler v. Kansas, James Kahler was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death. According to Oyez, Kansas law prohibits a jury from considering mental disorders as a criminal defense “insofar as it shows ‘that the defendant lacked the mental state required as an element of the offense charged.'”

    On appeal, Kahler argued the prosecution violated his right to a fair trial. The Kansas Supreme Court rejected Kahler’s argument, affirming his conviction and sentence. Kahler appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing Kansas law violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishments and the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process guarantee.

    The issue: Do the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments permit a state to abolish the insanity defense?
  • Peter v. NantKwest concerns whether applicants challenging a patent rejection under Section 145 of the U.S. Patent Act (35 U.S.C. § 145) must pay attorneys’ fees for the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO).

    Section 145 authorizes an applicant to challenge the PTO’s rejection of a patent application in federal district court. The law stipulates, “All the expenses of the proceedings shall be paid by the applicant.”

    The PTO rejected Dr. Hans Klingemann and NantKwest, Inc.’s, patent application. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board affirmed the rejection. Klingemann challenged the rejection under 35 U.S.C. § 145 in federal district court. The district court and the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the PTO’s patent rejection.

    The PTO filed a motion for reimbursement of attorneys’ fees under § 145, which the district court denied. On appeal, a divided Federal Circuit panel reversed the district court’s judgment. Sitting en banc, the Federal Circuit then vacated the panel’s decision and affirmed the district court’s initial rejection of the motion for attorneys’ fees reimbursement.

    The PTO appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing the Federal Circuit’s en banc ruling “contravenes the ordinary meaning of ‘expenses’ and is inconsistent with Section 145’s history and purpose.”

    The issue: Whether the phrase “[a]ll the expenses of the proceedings” in 35 U.S.C. 145 encompasses the personnel expenses the USPTO incurs when its employees, including attorneys, defend the agency in Section 145 litigation.
  • In Ramos v. Louisiana, Evangelisto Ramos was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment on a 10 to 12 jury verdict. He appealed his conviction to the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal, arguing his conviction by a non-unanimous jury violated his federal constitutional rights. The court of appeal affirmed Ramos’ conviction and sentence. The Louisiana Supreme Court denied review.

    The issue: Whether the Fourteenth Amendment fully incorporates the Sixth Amendment guarantee of a unanimous verdict?

October 8

  • Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia is consolidated with Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda.

    Gerald Bostock was an employee of Clayton County, Georgia. After his employment was terminated, Bostock sued the county for discrimination because of sexual orientation. Bostock argued his termination violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The federal district court dismissed the case and, on appeal, the 11th Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling.

    The issue: Whether discrimination against an employee because of sexual orientation constitutes prohibited employment discrimination “because of … sex” within the meaning of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2.

 

 

  • In R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC also concerns Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

    Aimee Stephens, an employee at R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc., was born biologically male. Stephens’ employment was terminated after she informed the funeral home’s owner that she would transition from male to female. Stephens filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which charged the funeral home with violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The district court granted summary judgment to the funeral home. On appeal, the 6th Circuit reversed the district court’s ruling and granted summary judgment to the EEOC.

    The issue: Whether Title VII prohibits discrimination against transgender people based on (1) their status as transgender or (2) sex stereotyping under Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins.

 

Upcoming SCOTUS dates

Here are the upcoming dates of interest in October:

  • October 7: 
    • SCOTUS will hear arguments in three cases.
    • SCOTUS will release orders.
  • October 8: SCOTUS will hear arguments in two cases.
  • October 11: SCOTUS will conference. A conference is a private meeting of the justices.

SCOTUS trivia

When does the U.S. Supreme Court’s yearly term begin?

  1. Always on October 1
  2. Always on October 7
  3. The first Monday in October
  4. Whenever the justices determine summer is over and decide to reconvene

Choose an answer to find out!

Federal court action

Confirmations

The Senate has confirmed six nominees since our September 9 issue. 

The Senate has confirmed 152 of President Trump’s judicial nominees—105 district court judges, 43 appeals court judges, two Court of International Trade judges, and two Supreme Court justices—since January 2017.

Nominations

President Trump announced 23 new Article III nominees since our September 9 edition.

The president has announced 222 Article III judicial nominations since taking office Jan. 20, 2017. The president named 69 judicial nominees in 2017 and 92 in 2018. For more information on the president’s judicial nominees, click here.

Federal judicial nominations by month chart

Vacancies

The federal judiciary currently has 107 vacancies. As of publication, there were 40 pending nominations.

According to the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts, an additional 13 judges have announced their intention to leave active judicial status during Trump’s first term.

For more information on judicial vacancies during Trump’s first term, click here.

Committee action

The Senate Judiciary Committee did not report any new nominees out of committee since our September 9 edition.

Do you love judicial nomination, confirmation, and vacancy information? We figured you might. Our monthly Federal Vacancy Count, published at the start of each month, monitors all the faces and places moving in, moving out, and moving on in the federal judiciary. Click here for our most current count.

Need a daily fix of judicial nomination, confirmation, and vacancy information? Click here for continuing updates on the status of all federal judicial nominees.

Or, if you prefer, we also maintain a list of individuals President Trump has nominated.

Court in the spotlight

In each issue of Bold Justice, we highlight a federal court you should know more about. Right now, we’re taking a closer look at the 94 U.S. District Courts. The district courts are the general trial courts of the U.S. federal court system.

There is at least one judicial district for each state, and one each for Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.  

In this edition,  we’re placing a spotlight on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The Eastern District of New York has original jurisdiction over cases filed in the following counties in the eastern part of the state of New York.

  • Kings County,
  • Queens County,
  • Richmond County,
  • Nassau County, and
  • Suffolk County.

Decisions of the court may be appealed to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Eastern District of New York has 15 authorized judgeships. There are currently five vacancies. The breakdown of current active judges by appointing president is:

  • Barack Obama (D): Six judges
  • George W. Bush (R): Four judges


September 2019 breakdown of state legislative party membership: 52.1% Republicans, 46.9% Democrats

September’s partisan count of the 7,383 state legislators across the United States shows 52.1% of all state legislators are Republicans and 46.9% are Democrats.
 
Ballotpedia completes a count of the partisan balance of state legislatures at the end of every month. The partisan composition of state legislatures refers to which political party holds the majority of seats in the state senate and state house. Republicans hold a majority in 61 chambers, and Democrats hold the majority in 37 chambers. One chamber (Alaska’s state House) has a power-sharing agreement between the two parties.
 
Altogether, there are 1,972 state senators and 5,411 state representatives. Republicans held 1,079 state senate seats—down three seats from August—and 2,771 state house seats—up two seats. Democrats held 3,464 of the 7,383 state legislative seats—879 state Senate seats (up one seat from August) and 2,585 state House seats (no change). Independent or third-party legislators held 35 seats. There were 34 vacant seats.
 
At the time of the 2018 elections, 7,280 state legislators were affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic parties. There were 3,257 Democratic state legislators, 4,023 Republican state legislators, 35 independent or third-party state legislators, and 68 vacancies.
 


Maine Supreme Court Justice Hjelm is retiring

Maine Supreme Judicial Court Justice Jeffrey Hjelm announced on September 20 that he is retiring, effective upon the confirmation of his successor.
 
Selection of state supreme court justices in Maine occurs through gubernatorial appointment, although the governor’s nominee must be confirmed by the Maine State Senate. Once confirmed, justices serve seven-year terms and must be reappointed if they wish to serve additional seven-year terms.
 
The Maine Supreme Judicial Court is the court of last resort in the state. It currently includes the following justices:
 
  • Chief Justice Leigh Ingalls Saufley – first appointed by Gov. Angus King (I)
  • Justice Ellen Gorman – first appointed by Gov. John Baldacci (D)
  • Justice Thomas Humphrey – first appointed by Gov. Paul LePage (R)
  • Justice Joseph Jabar – first appointed by Gov. John Baldacci (D)
  • Justice Andrew Mead – first appointed by Gov. Paul LePage (R)
  • Justice Donald Alexander – first appointed by Gov. Angus King (I)
  • Justice Jeffrey L. Hjelm – first appointed by Gov. Paul LePage (R)
 
Hjelm was nominated to the court by LePage on May 7, 2014, to succeed Jon Levy. Hjelm’s appointment was confirmed July 24, 2014. He previously served on the Knox County Superior Court from 1998 to 2014 and the Maine District Courts from 1992 to 1998. Hjelm received his undergraduate degree from Hamilton College and his J.D. from the Case Western Reserve University School of Law.
 
In 2019, there have been 19 supreme court vacancies across 13 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. Of those 19 vacancies, 12 are in states where a Republican governor appoints the replacement. Six vacancies occurred in a state where a Democratic governor fills vacancies, while another occurred in a state where a Republican-controlled legislature appoints replacements.
 


Gov. Stitt appoints M. John Kane IV to the Oklahoma Supreme Court

On Tuesday, Governor Kevin Stitt (R) appointed M. John Kane IV to the Oklahoma Supreme Court. Kane replaced former Justice John Reif, who retired on April 30, 2019. Kane is Stitt’s first nominee to the nine-member supreme court; the governor was first elected in November 2018.
 
Prior to this new appointment, Kane served as the Office 1 judge of the 10th District Court in Osage County, Oklahoma. He was appointed to that position in 2005. Before that, Kane worked in his family’s law firm, Kane, Kane & Kane Law Offices, P.C., from 1987 to 2005. He was also an administrative law judge from 1999 to 2005 and an assistant district attorney from 1987 to 1989. Kane received a B.S. in agricultural economics and accounting from Oklahoma State University in 1984 and a J.D. from the University of Oklahoma College of Law in 1987.
 
Including Kane, three of the sitting Oklahoma Supreme Court justices were appointed by Republican governors. Five members were appointed by Democratic governors, and the remaining seat is vacant and will be the second seat that Stitt fills by appointment.
 
In 2019, there have been 18 supreme court vacancies across 12 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. Of those 18 vacancies, 12 are in states where a Republican governor appoints the replacement. Five vacancies occurred in a state where a Democratic governor fills vacancies, while the last vacancy occurred in a state where a Republican-controlled legislature appoints replacements.
 


U.S. Supreme Court releases December argument calendar

The U.S. Supreme Court has released its December argument calendar for the 2019-2020 term. The court will hear 12 hours of oral argument in 15 cases between December 2 and December 11.
 
As of September 16, 2019, the court had agreed to hear 44 cases in the upcoming term.
 
December 2
  • New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. City of New York, New York asks whether New York City’s ban on transporting a handgun outside of city limits violates the Second Amendment, the Commerce Clause, and the constitutional right to travel.
  • Georgia v. Public.Resource.Org Inc. asks whether works that lack the force of law, like the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, are subject to copyright law.
 
December 3
  • Rodriguez v. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation asks the Court to resolve a U.S. Court of Appeals split on how courts should decide tax refund ownership.
  • Atlantic Richfield Co. v. Christian asks whether federal law preempts clean-up costs at superfund sites beyond the clean-up ordered by the EPA.
 
December 4
  • Intel Corp. Investment Policy Committee v. Sulyma asks about the statute of limitations for filing claims under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.
  • Banister v. Davis asks whether a motion to review an earlier judgment should be recharacterized as a second or successive habeas corpus petition.
 
December 9
  • Guerrero-Lasprilla v. Barr asks whether courts can review a request for equitable tolling of statutory motions to reopen as a matter of law. It was consolidated with Ovalles v. Barr.
  • Thryv, Inc. v. Click-To-Call Technologies, LP asks whether federal law permits an appeal of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s decision to allow a procedure to challenge a patent claim if the one-year time limitation does not apply.
 
December 10
  • Maine Community Health Options v. United States asks whether Congress can prohibit a federal agency from paying a statutory obligation through appropriations provisions that restrict the use of funds for the payment. It was consolidated with both Moda Health Plan Inc. v. United States and Land of Lincoln Mutual Health Insurance Co. v. United States.
  • Holguin-Hernandez v. U.S. asks whether a criminal defendant must formally challenge a sentence’s length when it is announced for an appellate court to review the sentence.
 
December 11
  • Monasky v. Taglieri asks how to interpret the standard of review for habitual residence and how to establish habitual residence for purposes of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.
  • McKinney v. Arizona asks whether a court must apply current law when reviewing mitigating and aggravating evidence to determine whether a death sentence is warranted.
Additional reading:


U.S. Senate confirms six nominees to U.S. District Court seats

The U.S. Senate confirmed six nominees to U.S. District Court judgeships. The Senate has confirmed 152 of President Trump’s Article III judicial nominees—two Supreme Court justices, 43 appellate court judges, 105 district court judges, and two U.S. Court of International Trade judges—since January 2017. At the end of the 115th Congress in January 2019, the Senate had confirmed 85 of the president’s judicial nominees.
 
The confirmed nominees are:
 
Stephanie Haines, confirmed to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. After she receives her judicial commission and takes her judicial oath, the court will have:
-Three vacancies.
-Five Republican-appointed judges and two Democratically-appointed judges
 
Ada Brown, confirmed to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. After she receives her judicial commission and takes her judicial oath, the court will have:
-No vacancies
-Ten Republican-appointed judges and two Democratically-appointed judges
 
Steven Grimberg, confirmed to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. After he receives his judicial commission and takes his judicial oath, the court will have:
-No vacancies
-Six Democratically-appointed judges and five Republican-appointed judges
 
Stephanie Gallagher, confirmed to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. After she receives her judicial commission and takes her judicial oath, the court will have:
-No vacancies
-Eight Democratically-appointed judges and two Republican-appointed judges
 
Mary McElroy, confirmed to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island. After she receives her judicial commission and takes her judicial oath, the court will have:
-No vacancies
-Two Republican-appointed judges and one Democratically-appointed judge
 
Steven Seeger, confirmed to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. After he receives his judicial commission and takes his judicial oath, the court will have:
-Two vacancies
-14 Democratically-appointed judges and six Republican-appointed judges
 
Four of the nominees—Haines, Brown, Grimberg, and Seeger—were confirmed with bipartisan support. Gallagher and McElroy were confirmed by voice vote, meaning there is no official record indicating how many or which senators voted yea or nay. Gallagher and McElroy were also nominated to the same district court seats by President Barack Obama (D) in 2015. Their nominations were returned to the president at the sine die adjournment of the 114th Congress in 2017.
 
There are 94 U.S. District Courts. They are the general trial courts of the United States federal courts.
 


Orlando filing deadline passes for mayor and 3 city council seats

The filing deadline to run for mayor and three of seven city council seats in Orlando, Florida, was on September 13. The city of Orlando is holding general elections for mayor and city council Districts 2, 4, and 6 on November 5, 2019. If needed, a runoff election is scheduled for December 3, 2019.
 
The city of Orlando uses a strong mayor and city council system, meaning the city council serves as the city’s primary legislative body and the mayor serves as the city’s chief executive. in Districts 2, 4, and 6,
 
The mayor is responsible for proposing a budget, signing legislation into law, appointing departmental directors and overseeing the city’s day-to-day operations. He or she is the city’s representative on the state, national, and international levels. In Orlando, the mayor also serves as the city council’s seventh member.
 
The city council is responsible for adopting the city budget, approving mayoral appointees, levying taxes, and making or amending city laws, policies and ordinances.
 
As of September 2019, 62 mayors in the largest 100 cities by population are affiliated with the Democratic Party, 30 are affiliated with the Republican Party, four are independents, and four identify as nonpartisan. While most mayoral elections in the 100 largest cities are nonpartisan, most officeholders are affiliated with a political party
 
Orlando is the fourth-largest city in Florida and the 76th-largest city in the U.S. by population.
 


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