Government Relations Update


May 2018 

FBA Capitol Hill Day

On Thursday, April 26, 2018, approximately 60 leaders of the Federal Bar Association met with Senate and House lawmakers and staff to urge adequate funding for the federal courts and prompt action in filling judicial vacancies and establishing judgeships. They also generated interest across Capitol Hill in an FBA proposal to establish an Article I immigration court. The FBA debriefing at the end of the day’s activity revealed that FBA representatives received a warm reception and a positive response from nearly all of the Congressional offices visited, providing for ongoing and stronger relationships between the FBA and Congress. FBA representatives in their meetings with members and staff of the United States Senate and House of Representatives focused on four policy priorities:

    •Our Federal Courts Need Adequate Funding
    •Judicial Vacancies and the Need for Prompt Action in Filling Them
    •Creation of Additional Judgeships in High Caseload Districts
    •Establishment of an Article I Immigration Court
The FBA media release on Capitol Hill Day is attached, along with the FBA Public Policy Priorities Brief. A photo on Twitter of the FBA Capitol Hill Day delegation is here. In addition to their meetings with their congressional representatives, Capitol Hill Day participants had the opportunity to attend a lecture and tour at the U.S. Supreme Court. GRC Chair West Allen was recently interviewed on Federal News Radio (WFED) in Washington, D.C. about the funding and vacancy challenges facing the federal courts. That interview is here.

FBA-NCC Program on the Trump Judiciary

The link to the podcast of the Federal Bar Association-National Constitution Center program on the Trump federal judiciary, recorded on March 24 at the FBA Mid-Year Meeting, is here. Other materials related to the FBA Mid-Year meeting are posted on the FBA website here.

Article III Judicial Vacancies and Confirmations (as of May 8, 2018)

Vacancies Nominees Pending
Supreme Court 0 0
Courts of Appeal 18 9
District Courts 122 57

US Ct of International Trade

2 0

US Ct of Federal Claims






Senate Confirmations of Trump Article III Nominees
Supreme Court 1
Court of Appeals 15

District Courts


US Ct of International Trade


US Ct of Federal Claims




Senate Judiciary Committee (majority) nominations counsel Mike Davis, speaking to FBA delegates during FBA Capitol Hill Day about judicial vacancies, noted that Republican Senate leaders will continue to devote priority to the confirmation of circuit court nominees during the remainder of the current session. Mr. Davis reported that Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley is working to secure the confirmation of 18 circuit judges this year, with 3 confirmed thus far. Mr. Davis also noted that Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley intends to hold 20 nominations hearings in 2018, typically one every other week. Four of the 15 circuit nominees confirmed to date are women, Davis noted. Cloture motions on the Senate floor were filed on April 26 for the confirmation of six circuit nominees when the Senate reconvenes during the week of May 7. Those nominees are:
    • Kurt Engelhardt (CA5 / La) (reported to floor on 2/8/2018)
    • Michael B. Brennan (CA7 / Wisc) (reported to floor on 2/15/2018) – Sen. Baldwin has not returned her blue slip on this nomination)
    • Joel Carson III (CA10 / N.M.) (reported to floor on 3/15/2018)
    • John B. Nalbandian (CA6 / Ky.) (reported to floor on 4/19/2018)
    •Michael Scudder (CA 7 / Ill.) (reported to floor on 4/19/2018)
    •Amy St. Eve (CA7 / Ill.) (reported to floor on 4/19/2018)
The Senate Rules Committee on April 25 approved a change in the Senate’s rules to speed up consideration of judicial and executive branch nominees. The change was approved by the Senate Rules and Administration Committee by a 10-9 party-line vote. The proposal (S. Res. 355) from Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) would reduce the 30 hours of debate available prior to cloture to 8 hours. Post-cloture debate for district judge nominees would be further capped at 2 hours

FBA Provides Article I Immigration Court Proposal to Senate Judiciary Panel

The Federal Bar Association promoted the establishment of an Article I immigration court in correspondence to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Border Security and Immigration in connection with the Subcommittee’s April 18 hearing on the challenges facing the immigration courts. The April 16, 2018 correspondence from FBA President Kip Bollin and Immigration Section Chair Elizabeth Stevens is attached.


May GRC Update

FBA Letter on Oversight of the Executive Office for Immigration Review Subcommittee Hearing to Reps. Labrador and Lofgren

Capitol Hill Day, Public Policy Priorities, and FBA Letter on Immigration Court Subcommittee Hearing to Sens. Cornyn and Durbin

2018 GRC Update February


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