2020 Candidates Weigh In On Church and State

While there are strong protections for religious freedom in America, arguments about how religious freedom mixes with legislation has been a contentious topic for as long as the country has existed. When candidates make it to office, striking a balance between the two is a must, and an issue that has Constitutional connections. After all, the First Amendment says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” So how do the candidates view that separation? How will they uphold it? How would they navigate a conflict between their religious beliefs and their […]

Will Joni Ernst Vote For Another Nominee With ‘Disturbing’ Record?

On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on a controversial potential judicial nominee for the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Protesters could be heard outside the proceedings. Inside, Republicans and Democrats both questioned Steven Menashi over columns he wrote in the past and criticized him for refusing to answer some of them. While at Dartmouth, Menashi worked for the conservative student newspaper and he was questioned by Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island about a specific piece he wrote which compared college applications that listed race to Nazi Germany’s Nuremberg Laws, written in 1935. Menashi said in […]

How To Ease The Worry About SCOTUS Health Scares

With Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s recent hospitalizations and Justice Antonin Scalia’s sudden death in 2016, public attention has been understandably glued to the health of the Supreme Court justices. And with the ideological balance of the Court ever at risk, the stakes of an illness can unnerve any partisan. A number of suggested reforms to the Supreme Court could mitigate those concerns. One is term limits, which would give every president a chance to appoint at least two new justices, with a new member never more than two years away. That would eliminate the need for justices to work through […]

New Wave Of Trump Judges Await Senate After Recess

When the Senate is back in session next week, they’ll resume debate and confirm more federal judges put forth by the Trump Administration. Before the August recess, senators pushed 12 judges through the nomination process and onto seats in federal district courts across the country. Now, 22 more district court judges have been nominated. District courts are the lowest level of United States federal court. On July 30, prior to the congressional recess, the Senate unanimously agreed to hold confirmation votes for six of the nominees. Those votes will happen when Senate leaders of both parties, Sens. Mitch McConnell and […]

Ask Candidates About Courts, Harkin And Advocacy Group Urges

As Democratic candidates campaign across Iowa, make sure to ask them about their plans to win the judiciary back from conservative court-packing, one national advocacy group is urging Iowa caucus-goers. Demand Justice, a progressive advocacy organization seeking to restore balance to the ideological leanings of the federal courts, organized a meeting with connected Iowans and former Sen. Tom Harkin on Friday. The Issue Of Vacancies And Confirmations Brian Fallon, the founder of Demand Justice, said the biggest problem facing Democrats is that Republicans have spent the last three years filling judicial vacancies — 146 so far — mostly with right-wing […]

Eighth Circuit Court Gives LGBTQ Discrimination Case New Life

Today the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals released a decision that adds another opportunity for a case in the Supreme Court concerning the crossroads between anti-discrimination laws and religious freedom. In a 2-1 decision, the panel of judges decided that a couple who won’t shoot wedding videos for same-sex weddings can pursue a claim in court that includes elements of free speech and religious freedom rights. Donald Trump appointee David Stras led the panel and wrote the decision, joined by Bobby Shepherd, a George W. Bush appointee. Judge Jane Kelly, a Barack Obama appointee, dissented with part of the decision. […]

Cedar Rapids Judge Eyed Again As Possible SCOTUS Nominee For Democrats

Soon, a progressive judicial group advocating for court reform will release a list of potential nominees for the Supreme Court that they hope the Democratic presidential candidates will consider. It appears that Jane Kelly, a judge from Cedar Rapids who currently serves on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals and was once on Barack Obama’s short list for a Supreme Court nomination, will be among them. Why Jane Kelly? Kelly is 54 years old and she spent her career from 1994 to 2013 in the federal public defender’s office for the Northern District of Iowa. Federal public defenders counsel defendants […]

Why Everyone’s Armed: SCOTUS And The Second Amendment

After a string of mass shootings have rocked the United States, the debate over gun control and the Second Amendment is raging once again. The Second Amendment says: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” For years that language wasn’t a problem, but as with most laws forged at the founding of the country, the nation’s courts have had to take another look at it in order to make it relevant to the country as society and technology have changed. […]

Trump’s ‘Assembly Line’ Of Right-Wing Judges Rolls On In Senate

The Senate adjourned for the August recess last week on the heels of another prolific week for judicial nominations. The Republican-controlled chamber confirmed 12 new judges in a two-day period to lifetime appointments on district courts, including Illinois, Texas and Oregon. The previous week, two other judges were confirmed for district court seats. According to Daniel Goldberg, legal director for the Alliance for Justice, a progressive judicial advocacy group, the volume of confirmations was concerning. “Obviously it’s a lot, particularly when you consider that Mitch McConnell completely shut down confirmations for Barack Obama,” said Goldberg. “So, Merrick Garland is the […]

While Few Pay Attention, Senate Approves Raft Of Trump Judges

As voters focus on the latest Democratic debates and multi-candidate primary, President Donald Trump continues to reshape the federal courts. Over the past two days, the Republican-controlled Senate has confirmed 12 judges to the United States District Court, the lowest part of the federal court system. Several more nominees remain on the docket. On Tuesday, the Senate confirmed four judges to federal courts. And on Wednesday, lawmakers confirmed eight more. At this point in his administration, Trump has confirmed 144 of the 194 judges he nominated. Michael Liburdi Vote count: 53-37, 10 not voting Nay — 36 Democrats, one Independent; Yea […]