NCWBA Urges Up or Down Vote on Judge Garland

The National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations has added its voice to those asking that the US Senate Judiciary Committee move ahead expeditiously to act on the nomination of Judge Garland to the Supreme Court. The letter can be read at the link below:

NCWBA – letter to Senate Judiciary Comm. re Judge Garland

With the nomination by President Obama of Judge Merrick Garland on March 16 to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, it is now left to the Senate Judiciary Committee to convene  hearings on his qualifications and give him an up-or-down vote. It was made clear, even before the nomination of Judge Garland, by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and others that no action on the nomination is planned. The partisan nature of the inaction has caused many state and local bar associations to shy away from public discussion of the matter. Yet lawyers are uniquely qualified to understand and explain the importance of separation of powers, constitutional duties and the barrier to the fair administration of justice posed by judicial vacancies. In this instance, silence can be viewed by the Senate and the public as consent by the legal community to the Senate’s inaction. As a women’s bar leader, what can or should you do?

As individuals, you can write to your own Senators, urging them to support an up-or-down vote on the nomination. Here is an e-mail form created by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC). Or you may wish to pattern your letter after the template provided hereby the NWLC.
If you want to consider taking action as a bar group, here is background information about federal judicial vacancies from the American Bar Association. Here’s a fact sheet from the NWLC on why women’s rights are affected by the Supreme Court vacancy. For a detailed explanation by the Congressional Research Service of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s role in the Supreme Court appointment process, click here.
Here’s a sample op-ed piece provided by the NWLC you might tailor to fit a local newspaper.
Here are some examples of letters and press releases from bar organizations:
Queen’s Bench Bar Association was a signatory on a letter from numerous California local and specialty bar associations.
To echo the words of retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, “We need somebody now to do the job. Let’s get on with it.”


White House Briefing on the Judicial Vacancy Crisis

NCWBA President-Elect Andrea Carlise and Immediate Past President Cezy Collins were among the advocates from around the country who gathered this week for a White House briefing on vacancies on the Federal bench.  For information on what women’s bar associations can do to encourage diversity in the courts, click here.


Andrea Carlise and Cezy Collins in White House Rose Garden.

President-Elect Andrea Carlise and Immediate Past President Cezy Collins in the Rose Garden.


Jane Kelly Confirmed as Second Woman Judge on the US Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals

Jane Kelly, an Assistant Federal Public Defender for the Northern District of Iowa, has been nominated by President Obama to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. If she is confirmed, she would be only the second woman to serve as a judge in the Eighth Circuit.

Click here for the National Women’s Law Center post about the nomination.

For information about the efforts to increase the number of women judges in the Eighth Circuit, see The Infinity Project.

Gender Equity on South African Courts?

South African Women Lawyers Association President, Noxolo Maduba, welcomed the news that of the 23 candidates who will be interviewed in Cape Town in early April for 11 judicial vacancies on various courts, 14 are women.  This follows concern last year over the fact that of the four candidates submitted to the president to replace a retiring justice on the Constitutional Court Bench, none was female, despite a constitutional mandate that requires judicial appointments to reflect the country’s racial and gender composition.  For more on the topic, click here.

NCWBA in the Blogosphere

Because of our June 2011 letter of support for a hearing in the United States Senate for federal judicial nominee Caitlin Halligan, we are getting some postive and negative blog mentions–most recently from the White House

Illinois’ First Female Supreme Court Justice Mary Ann McMorrow Dies at Age 83

Retired Chief Justice of the Illinois State Supreme Court Mary Ann McMorrow has died. A true trailblazer for women in the law, she was generous in mentoring others. Click here for the Chicago Tribune story.

Bernette Johnson Sworn in as Louisiana’s First Black Chief Justice

On February 1,  Bernette Johnson, was sworn in as Louisiana’s First Black Chief Justice.  A public ceremony will be held later this month.  For more details, click here.


BernetteJohnson. Chief Justice

Washington’s State Supreme Court Makes History

The State of Washington makes history with a female chief justice and a female majority.  Read more at the link below: 

Washington State Supreme Court