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Stacking the Judiciary for the Left By: Marion Edwyn Harrison, Esq.
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Created by Congress in 1922, to serve as the principal policy making body for the administration of the U.S. Courts, the Judicial Conference of the United States is an objective entity within the federal judiciary. Its voting members are all federal judges. Alas, in its biannual meeting last month, the conference made an unprecedented, massive, but in ideal circumstances also direly needed, recommendation.

The conference recommended to Congress the creation of 63 additional federal judgeships: nine appellate (that is, U.S. Courts of Appeal), and 51 trial (that is, U.S. District Courts). The previous Congress, accurately anticipating an increase to the Left in the new Congress and a leftist presidency, departed from precedent and declined to confirm a large and already long list of Bush nominees.

Thus, as of March 1, 2009, there are 15 Courts of Appeals vacancies and 50 District Court vacancies. Not surprisingly, there are 21 federal courts with “Judicial Emergencies,” as that finding objectively is calculated by the career staff of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.  Further, there is an unquantified additional number of federal courts with unduly crowded dockets. Although the maxim “Justice delayed is justice denied” is not always fully applicable, these conditions do adversely affect litigants.

It is worth noting that there is a difference - sometimes in practice only a distinction - between judicial seats officially labeled permanent or temporary. Such distinctions functionally don’t matter. A federal judge is a judge for life during “good behavior” or until retirement - or, very rarely, resignation.

The conference recommends an increase of 12 above the presently authorized 167 U.S. Courts of Appeals judgeships for six of those 11 courts; an increase of 57 above the presently authorized 667 for certain highly impacted district courts in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and Washington -- 20 States.

The gloomy portent, about which I have commented in this column before, may come to pass. In the most optimistic slant, it is questionable that the Obama administration is interested in appointing lifetime federal judges who would be traditional and adjudicatory in their rulings and decisions. They will prefer judges who are reformist or legislative.

That is, they are stacking the judiciary for the Left.

Marion Edwyn Harrison is President of, and Counsel to, the Free Congress Foundation.

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