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Judicial Vacancies Skyrocket During President Obama’s First Term

Interesting article at the Huffington Post about Judicial Vacancies and Obama’s first term:

As President Barack Obama winds down his first term in office, he won’t be looking back with pride at his record on reducing federal judicial vacancies.

There are currently 83 empty district and circuit court judge seats. That means Obama is poised to end the year with more vacancies than when he was sworn in — there were 55 when he came in — and with far fewer confirmed nominees than his two predecessors had by the end of their first terms. While former President Bill Clinton was at 200 and George W. Bush was at 205, Obama is at 160, according to data provided by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Thirty-three of those 83 empty seats are considered “judicial emergencies.” At the circuit courts, that means that because of the vacancies, the number of cases per panel of judges exceeds 700, or stays between 500 and 700 for more than 18 months. In district courts, it means the number of cases per individual judge is more than 600, or between 430 and 600 for more than 18 months. The more overloaded judges are, the more delayed the process of moving millions through the justice system.

Senate obstruction is the most widely cited source of the crisis. But Obama’s record when it comes to nominating judges is also lackluster. He hasn’t put forward as many nominees as his predecessors, a fact that Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said is fueling the crisis with judicial vacancies. By this point in their presidencies, Clinton and Bush had nominated 247 and 231 judicial nominees, respectively. Obama has only put up 215.

But naming more nominees doesn’t mean Senate Republicans would necessarily move any faster to confirm them, said a White House aide. “If my coffee pot only makes one cup per hour, no matter how many coffee beans I pour into it, the number of cups coming out will still be the same,” said the aide. “It doesn’t matter how many more judges we jam into the pipeline, the vacancy rate doesn’t change at all. The bottleneck is the Senate.”

Indeed, Senate Republicans haven’t been brewing much coffee with Obama the past four years. The pattern throughout the president’s tenure has been uncontroversial judicial nominees clearing the Senate Judiciary Committee but going nowhere the Senate floor. Then, after months of opposition, GOP leaders agree to clear some of the backlog and long-stalled nominees sail through virtually unopposed.

Historically, senators from both parties stalled judicial nominees when those senators are in the opposite party of the sitting president. But what has changed is the degree to which obstruction has become standard operating procedure since Obama took office. After four years, Obama has seen about 75 percent of his nominees confirmed. By contrast, the Senate confirmed 81 percent of Clinton’s nominees and 88.7 percent of Bush’s nominees by this point in their presidency.

Two months ago, the Senate went into recess without taking action on 19 judicial nominees, nearly all of whom have support from both parties.

“I cannot remember a time when the Senate refused to act on nominees with such bipartisan support,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said in a statement.

The fact that GOP senators haven’t been helping to push through judicial nominees from their home states may also play a role in Obama’s nominee count. Senators have the ability to provide a “blue slip” to the Judiciary Committee to approve moving a nominee from their home state through the committee process. The White House signaled that hasn’t been happening so much since Obama took office.

“Republican obstruction exists on many levels, including often not being cooperative in our efforts to nominate judges in states where they hold blue slips,” said the aide.

With a few weeks left this year, Democrats are holding out for action on the 19 stalled nominees. Their confirmations would translate to filling about one-fourth of all current judicial vacancies, and would fill 13 judicial emergencies. But Leahy and Grassley are still squabbling over whether that can happen in a lame-duck Congress.

“From 1980 until this year, when a lame duck session followed a presidential election, every single judicial nominee reported with bipartisan Judiciary Committee support has been confirmed,” Leahy said in a statement. “I remember. I was the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee who moved forward with those votes.”

Expect an impasse on the issue because of “Senate precedent,” Grassley countered, in an interview with USA Today, blaming an increase in judicial filibusters on Democrats who blocked some of Bush’s nominees in 2002.

“That kind of set a higher bar,” he said.

Texas Trucker accused of Gun Smuggling into Mexico is Freed

Talk about taking a wrong turn! Apparently Jabin Bogan from Dallas Texas needs some basic geography lessons and help reading road signs. Around 7 months ago while en route to Phoenix with a delivery of gun ammunition Jabin took a wrong turn and ended up in Mexico.

For his driving error Jabin spent the last seven months in a Mexican maximum security prison. It sounds like he had a pretty harrowing time south of the border and claims to have considered suicide a number of times.

Mexico has made stopping gun imports a major effort in halting the escalating drug wars over the last few years. Officials there claim most guns are coming from the US and take a hard line approach to dealing with gun smugglers as Jabin learned first hand.

Bottom line here is to learn where North is when traveling in the southwest.

New Study finds that ADHD Medicines may help to reduce crime

A Swedish study released last week in the New England Journal of Medicine has concluded that individuals with ADHD are less likely to commit a crime while taking medication. The study reviewed over 25,000 individuals with ADHD and their medication and any criminal behavior over a 3 year period.

The majority of crimes were burglary and theft related though about 4,000 of more than 23,000 crimes reported were violent in nature.

CONCLUSIONS
Among patients with ADHD, rates of criminality were lower during periods when they were receiving ADHD medication. These findings raise the possibility that the use of medication reduces the risk of criminality among patients with ADHD. (Funded by the Swedish Research Council and others.)[New England Journal of Medicine]

Studies like this show that it is important to understand how mental diseases can affect personality and that treatment and medication are possibly effective methods of reducing and preventing crime.

What do you think? Let us know on our Facebook page.

Andrew Thomas for Governor? LOL


Recently Andrew Thomas let the press know that in the next 90 days he would be making an announcement as to whether he will be running for Arizona Governor in 2014. David Michael Cantor has a take on this news and if you watch the video above you can hear all about them.

Arizona Races Up in Air as Ballot Count Continues

Ah the good old state of Arizona. We never seem to want to be out of the headlines. This time its regarding that election thing that the country had, over a week ago! It turns out that Arizona still has over 300,000 ballots left to count, most of which are the mail in kind:

Arizona elections officials continued chipping away at a mountain of uncounted ballots, but a week after the election more than 324,000 uncounted ballots remained, leaving final results up in the air and prompting protests from the Latino community.

At least one high-profile contest remains in the balance: the closely watched congressional race between incumbent Democrat Ron Barber—the chosen successor to former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords—and Republican Martha McSally. As of Tuesday evening, 829 votes separated the candidates, with Mr. Barber ahead.

Many candidates with large leads—such as Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Flake and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio—have declared victory while their opponents conceded.

But state election officials cautioned that with so many uncounted ballots they couldn’t confirm the outcome of any races. The state plans to release its official results Dec. 3, but “that doesn’t stop candidates from declaring victory or conceding defeat,” said Matthew Roberts, spokesman for the Arizona Secretary of State’s office, which oversees elections.

More than 146,000 uncounted ballots are early mail-in ballots, and the rest are provisional ballots—meaning ballots that need to be checked for missing information, such as the voter’s identity or to ensure the voter hadn’t filled out two ballots, or voted at the wrong polling place.

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