With the in-state news so universally dreadful this week, a body is forced to look elsewhere to find some shreds of hope.

Here’s at least one non-NC item that might even portend something good for our state: Today, President Obama appointed an excellent lawyer named Jane Kelley to the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. As you may or may not already know, the Eighth Circuit is headquartered in Kansas City and covers seven Midwestern states: Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Here’s another fact about the Eighth Circuit: In the history of that court, there have been 57 justices. Of that number, 56 have been men. We’re not making this up. 

The President’s selection of Kelly will make it two out of 58 — still awful, but, hey, 3.4% is better than 1.8%. It’s a start, anyway.

And what is the implication for North Carolina, you ask? Read More


Seven federal district and circuit court of appeals judges filed a class action complaint on Nov. 30 in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims to recover, on behalf of more than 1,000 of their colleagues, pay raises since 2003 that they say were authorized by law but improperly rescinded by Congress.

The judges rely on a decision from a full panel of the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in October, Beer v. United States, in which six federal judges had sued individually to recover those raises.  In Beer, the court held that federal judges were entitled to damages in the amount of pay raises they should have received, under the Ethics Reform Act of 1989, since 2003.

Quoting from that case, the judges contend that what was good for the individual judges is good for their colleagues as well:

When Congress promised protection against diminishment in real pay in a definite manner and prohibited judges from earning outside income and honoraria to supplement their compensation, that Act triggered the expectation-related protections of the Compensation Clause for all sitting judges. A later Congress could not renege on that commitment without diminishing judicial compensation.

The ruling in Beer meant about a $25,000 bump in base pay for each of the judges.