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Senate Judiciary Committee

Judiciary Committee Delays Vote on Lynch Nomination

Today, a number of Senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee delayed a committee vote on the nomination of Loretta Lynch to be Attorney General of the United States. This delay is nothing but baseless obstruction of a nominee so superbly qualified that not one of the Republican-called outside witnesses at her confirmation hearing opposes her confirmation. Senators from both parties have announced their support of Loretta Lynch to be the nation’s leading law enforcement officer, as have the nearly 40 individuals and organizations who have submitted letters to the Committee.  Read more »

Access to Justice for All: Raising the Voices of the Men and Women Who Have Been Victims of Police Killings

There are more African American men in prison today than there were slaves in 1850.

Shock and frustration at the state of racial discrimination in the United States—particularly at the hands of police officers and mass incarceration—characterized Tuesday’s Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights’ final hearing of the 113th Congress on the state of civil and human rights in the United States. Given recent affairs, it makes sense that the six panelists’ remarks focused on police abuse and racial discrimination, sentencing, and incarceration rates. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey presented a passionate appeal to the Committee to tackle the racial discrimination problems that pervade the prison system, while Representative Keith Ellison from Minneapolis urged the Senators that in addition to better training for state and local police forces, racial justice requires that we deal with the structural economic abandonment of cities like Ferguson, Missouri. Read more »

Ten Things You Should Know About DC Circuit Nominee Nina Pillard

On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on the nomination of law professor Cornelia (Nina) Pillard to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. There has been a lot of misinformation swirling around about this highly qualified nominee since Professor Pillard’s confirmation hearing at the end of July. But when you look at Nina Pillard’s actual record, it is immediately apparent that she is tremendously qualified to sit on this important court – and should be approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Here are just ten facts that make the case:

  1. She helped open VMI to women. Professor Pillard wrote the briefs in United States v. Virginia, a case originally filed by the George H.W. Bush Administration. Professor Pillard’s arguments persuaded the Supreme Court to open the Virginia Military Institute to women, ending one of the last male-only admissions policies at a state college. Read an op-ed about Professor Pillard from a VMI alumna here.
  2. She protected the Family & Medical Leave Act. Professor Pillard argued Nevada Department of Human Resources v. Hibbs before the Supreme Court, alongside Department of Justice officials from the George W. Bush administration. Their defense of the Family and Medical Leave Act successfully vindicated a state employee’s right to take unpaid leave to care for his ill wife. Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote the majority opinion.

Taking Stock of Diversity in the Federal Judiciary; Significant Progress Has Been Made, But Much Remains to Be Done

As we approach the end of President Obama’s first term in office, it’s an appropriate time to look back and take stock of the impact the President has had on the federal bench, to date. Although, thanks to a determined minority in the Senate, there is a record number of judicial seats that remain empty, the most recent additions to the federal bench are remarkable not only for their excellence and qualifications, but also for how they are changing the face of the judiciary.  
President Obama’s Administration has nominated more women and people of color for judgeships than any previous Administration in history. Overall, of the President’s confirmations, approximately 43% have been women, more than twice the rate under the previous Administration.  In fact, more women have been confirmed to the federal bench in President Obama’s first term than during President George W. Bush’s entire presidency. As a result, even with the vacancies, the percentage of active women judges on the federal bench has increased from slightly above 25% to over 30% since 2009.  
The Administration also broke gender barriers by confirming six women as the first woman judges ever to serve on their district court, and five more as the first woman circuit judge in their state.  And it must be noted, of course, that for the first time in history, three women serve on the Supreme Court at one time.  President Obama’s nomination of Justices Sotomayor and Kagan created that exciting breakthrough. 

“He sees you when you’re sleeping”—Does Santa use stalker apps?

Having a smartphone with GPS is great, right? We can map directions, find the best places to eat in the area, and have a car come pick us up wherever we are. But it can also be scary and dangerous:

  • A man in Arizona stalked his wife by tracking her cellphone, and murdered their two children, before shooting himself.
  • A Texas woman packed up her car and drove to a friend’s house after her husband assaulted her, only to have him secretly track her through her phone’s GPS and show up, assault her again, and take the car.
  • Near Seattle, a mechanic tracked his wife’s cellphone, found her at a store with another man, and shot and killed their five children and then himself.

Technology that allows a third party to monitor a smartphone user’s location is frighteningly prevalent. In December 2010, an investigation by the Wall Street Journal revealed that of the 101 top smartphone apps, nearly half (47) disclosed a user’s location to third parties, typically without the user’s consent. Many of these are “stalking apps,” which are used to stalk and harass women. Read more »