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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has its newest justice. Patricia Millett was confirmed by the Senate this morning on a bipartisan vote of 56-38. The vote was made possible as a result of the Senate’s long-overdue decision to alter its rules so that Senators can no longer filibuster judicial nominees (except to the Supreme Court) and other presidential nominees to lead various agencies.

The rule change should lead to a similar vote — perhaps as early as later today — on the long-stalled nomination of Congressman Mel Watt to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

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The national advocacy/watchdog group, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is hosting a panel discussion on Judicial Diversity this afternoon/evening from 4pm – 6:30pm in downtown Charlotte at the Gantt Center. This event is free, and refreshments will be served.

The panel will feature five diverse state and federal judges serving in North Carolina who will share their experiences with students, professionals, and advisors, as well as persons who may be curious about careers on the bench.  Panelists will discuss their own career backgrounds and paths to the bench.  After the panel discussion, the judges will lead break-out sessions where they will engage one-on-one with audience members potentially interested in becoming future judges.

Barbara Arnwine, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee, will be giving opening remarks.

Panelists will include: Yvonne Mims Evans, Resident Superior Court Judge, Judicial District 26; Calvin E. Murphy, Special Superior Court Judge For Complex Business Cases; Regan A. Miller, Chief District Court Judge, Mecklenburg County; Rickeye McKoy-Mitchell, District Court Judge, Mecklenburg County; and Theresa Holmes-Simmons, Judge, United States Immigration Court.

Questions? Please contact the Lawyers’ Committee folks at judicialdiversity@lawyerscommittee.org

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In case you missed it, the Charlotte Observer explained yesterday why it’s time, at long last, to “go nuclear” on the filibuster in the U.S. Senate:

“[Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid told reporters Tuesday that he was once again considering rules reform – which is shorthand for doing away with filibusters on judicial and executive nominations by allowing a simple majority vote for approvals. A senior aide made that “nuclear option” sound even more likely in an interview with the Washington Post, saying that it’s hard to envision Reid not changing the rules.

He should. The filibuster, once a useful tool designed to give the minority party more influence in confirmations and legislation, is now a tactic overused by both parties to strip the president of the appointment powers the Constitution has given him.

Well over 100 of Obama’s executive and judicial nominees – including U.S. Rep. Mel Watt of Charlotte, who was nominated to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency – have seen their nominations stalled because the Senate requires 60 votes to overcome a filibuster. That means just 40 senators can stop nominees from getting the consideration and yes-or-no vote they deserve….”

Read the rest of the editorial by clicking here.

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Mel WattThe next time someone tells you that the problem with D.C. politics is the refusal of President Obama and folks on what passes for the “left” to “compromise” with conservatives, ask them to read this Huffington Post article about the utterly absurd, take-no-prisoners obstructionism confronting a long and growing list of high-quality nominees put forth by the President to fill numerous vacancies on the federal courts and in other important agencies – including the national Housing Finance Agency position for which North Carolina Congressman Mel Watt (pictured at left) was nominated months ago.

 And, of course, it’s just coincidence that so many of the stonewalled nominees are women and people of color.

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U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has filed a “cloture” motion on the filibuster that’s been blocking the nomination of Cornelia “Nina” Pillard to serve on the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. This means that the Senate should vote around 5:30 this afternoon.

Unfortunately, conservatives in the Senate continue to adhere to their trasparently dishonest public argument that “the court doesn’t have enough cases to justify filling vacant seats” — an argument that continues to provoke almost universal disdain from a long list of mainstream experts and analysts.

The following, for instance, is from Richard Painter — a corproate law professor who served in the George W. Bush White House — writing for the American Constitution Society: Read More