Washburn University School of Law, you have something to celebrate: a Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals judge (and now-former Kansas Supreme Court Justice). Other notable Washburn alums include former Senator and Presidential candidate Bob Dole and Fred Phelps, Pastor of the Westboro Baptist Church. Time to update the Wikipedia page, folks!
Justice Moritz, now Judge Moritz, fills a vacancy that's been around since then-Judge Deanell Tacha took senior status in 2011, shortly before taking over as Dean of Pepperdine Law School. With Moritz's ascension to the bench, the list of judicial vacancies grows even smaller, leaving only a few district-level spots in the Tenth Circuit, and a few circuit court seats elsewhere.
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Meet Your New Judge
What can be said about Judge Moritz that hasn't been said before (by us)? Not a whole lot, since we exhaustively covered Judge Moritz's resume last year when her nomination was announced. Here are a few highlights:
- Research attorney for Justice Harold Herd on the Kansas Supreme Court;
- Clerk for the U.S. District Court in Kansas;
- Private practice (civil litigation);
- United States Attorneys Office, where she handled criminal appeals and argued more than 25 cases before the Tenth Circuit;
- Appointed to the Kansas appellate bench in 2004, the Kansas Supreme Court in 2010, and this week, she joined the Tenth Circuit.
Any Seats at the Table?
Now that the filibuster has been nuked, the number of federal judicial vacancies has plummeted dramatically. Here in the Tenth Circuit, there are only a few district court seats left:
- District of Kansas (vacant since April 22, 2014);
- Western District of Oklahoma (vacant since July 7, 2013);
- District of Utah (vacant since January 1, 2014).
As for our nation's circuit courts of appeal, the vacancies are also dwindling:
- Federal Circuit (vacant since June 30, 2014)
- Eleventh Circuit x2 (vacant since October 26, 2013, Jill Pryor is pending for a second vacancy.)
- Seventh Circuit (vacant since January 7, 2010)
- Sixth Circuit (vacant since August 16, 2013)
- Fifth Circuit x2 (vacant since August 1, 2012 and December 31, 2013)
- Third Circuit (vacant since July 1, 2013)
That may seem like quite the list, but it still counts as progress. On January 1, 2014, there were 92 vacancies. The total now stands at 57, with 23 nominations pending.
- Aereo Pivots, Arguing It's an Online Cable and DVR Company (FindLaw's U.S. Tenth Circuit Blog)
- Flurry of Action as Fed. Court Strikes Colo.'s Gay-Marriage Ban (FindLaw's U.S. Tenth Circuit Blog)
- And Another One: Oklahoma's Gay Marriage Ban Fails on Appeal (FindLaw's U.S. Tenth Circuit Blog)