On Monday, the U.S. Senate confirmed Judge Julie Carnes to a position on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Atlanta.
Judge Carnes graduated magna cum laude from the University of Georgia School of Law. She clerked for Judge Lewis R. Morgan of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, then served as Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Georgia from 1978 to 1990. She also served as Commissioner of the U.S. Sentencing Commission from 1990 to 1996.
Judge Carnes' Confirmation Reflects a Larger Problem with Judicial Nominations
Judge Carnes was originally nominated in December, ostensibly as part of a package deal to fill several vacancies in the Eleventh Circuit. Judge Carnes, nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia by President George H.W. Bush in 1991 and confirmed in 1992, was the choice of Senate Republicans and -- rumor has it -- came as part of a deal to also appoint the Democrats' choice, Jill Pryor to the Court of Appeals. Several District Court judges in Georgia were also nominated as part of the agreement.Pryor's nomination was reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee by voice vote in June, but she has yet to be confirmed.
The 94-0 vote to confirm Judge Carnes could signal an easy confirmation for Pryor, the Democrats' nominee. President Obama nominated Pryor over two years ago, in February 2012, but she was stalled by her own state's senators after they failed to submit "blue slips," the traditional approval a judicial nominee needs from her home-state's senators. Typically, a judicial nomination won't proceed without the approval of at least one of the nominee's home state senators.
Four of the nominations in Georgia were concerned "judicial emergencies," according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Nationwide, there are 57 vacancies out of 850 federal judgeships nationwide, a 7% vacancy rate. If that sounds bad, it's still better than the 96 vacancies in February, before Senate Democrats changed the Senate rules to prohibit filibusters for non-Supreme Court judicial nominees.
- Filibuster is Gone, But Will Blue Slips Halt 11th Circuit Nominations? (FindLaw's Eleventh Circuit Blog)
- Study: Judicial Vacancies Are Jamming Up the System (Time)
- How an Absurd Senate Rule Kept a Powerful Judgeship Open for 1000 Days and Counting (Think Progress)
- 11th Cir. Is Super Busy, Super Quick: Judiciary Report (FindLaw's Eleventh Circuit Blog)