FJA Legislative Report

Legislation

On June 29, 2017, the House Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) Appropriations Subcommittee completed its markup of FY2018 funding for the federal judiciary, approving the markup in an 8-5 vote. At $7.1 billion, the subcommittee funding mark for the Judiciary, is a 2.4% increase in funding from FY2017, though the level falls short of the Judiciary’s request by $100 million. The increase in funding for the Judiciary is in contrast to deep cuts to other agencies in the bill.

The House bill extends 8 temporary district judgeships and 7 temporary bankruptcy judgeships. The extended district judgeships are in Arizona, California’s Central District, Florida’s Southern District, Kansas, Missouri’s Eastern District, New Mexico, North Carolina’s Western District, and Texas’s Eastern District. The extended bankruptcy judgeships are in Delaware (2), Florida’s Southern District (2), Michigan’s Eastern District, Puerto Rico, and Virginia’s Eastern District.

Finally, the House bill approves funding for a pilot program using Marshals Service personnel instead of Dept. of Homeland Security personnel for courthouse security arrangements.

The full House Appropriations Committee has yet to schedule its markup of the bill, and the Senate FSGG subcommittee has yet to announce a markup.

On July 20, 2017, Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) introduced S.1593. The bill provides grants to States and Indian tribes to reform their criminal justice systems by encouraging the replacement of the use of payment of secured money bail as a condition of pretrial release in criminal cases.

On June 8, 2017, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), along with senators from both parties, introduced the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2017. In part, the bill would allow prosecutors to enjoin behavior that violates human trafficking statutes.  A statement from Senator Grassley’s office which includes statements of support from Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and John Cornyn (R-TX), as well as a link to the text of the bill, can be found here.

Judicial Nominations and Confirmations

At present, the Senate has confirmed four federal judges this year: Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, Judges Amul Thapar and John K. Bush to the Sixth Circuit, and Judge David Nye to the District of Idaho. The Trump Administration has made 26 judicial nominations that are currently pending. The nominees include David Ryan Stras and Ralph R. Erickson (8th Cir.), Kevin Newsom (11th Cir.), Allison H. Eid (10th Cir.), Stephanos Bibas (3rd Cir.), Amy Coney Barrett (7th Cir.), Joan L. Larsen (6th Cir.), Scott L. Palk and Charles Barnes Goodwin (W.D. Okla.), Dabney L. Friedrich, Trevor N. McFadden, and Timothy J. Kelly (D.D.C.), Claria Horn Boom (E.D. Ky. & W.D. Ky.), Michael Lawrence Brown and William McCrary Ray II (N.D. Ga.), William L. Campbell Jr. and Eli J. Richardson (M.D. Tenn.), Thomas Alvin Farr (E.D. N.C.), Mark Norris, Sr. and Thomas Parker (W.D. Tenn.), Tilman Self III (M.D. Ga.), and Annemarie Carney Axon and Liles C. Burke (N.D. Ala.). There are 20 vacancies remaining in the Circuit Courts and 108 vacancies remaining in the District Courts.

The FJA thanks West Allen and Bruce Moyer of the Federal Bar Association for their permission to use information provided in the FBA’s Government Relations Update, which can be found here.

Legislative Reception

The Federal Judges Association, the Federal Magistrate Judges Association, and the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges will be hosting a legislative reception on September 13, 2017 in Washington, DC.  Judge Charles R. Simpson III, chair of the Legislative Liaison committee, is organizing the event for the FJA.