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Cooley Law School has it ‘exactly backward’ and students deserve to know the truth, ABA filing says

Posted by on Nov 21, 2017 in Elder Care | Comments Off on Cooley Law School has it ‘exactly backward’ and students deserve to know the truth, ABA filing says

Legal Education


The American Bar Association decision that Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School was “significantly out of compliance” with an accreditation standard regarding admissions was final and not subject to further appeal, the association argued Friday in a response brief to Cooley Law’s motion for a temporary restraining order to seal the finding.

Cooley filed the complaint (PDF) and TRO motion (PDF) on Nov. 14 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. They asked the court to seal the ABA’s accreditation standards finding pending further appeals by Cooley.

“Cooley has it exactly backward. Those students deserve to know the truth. The preliminary injunction should be denied,” the ABA writes in its Nov. 17 response (PDF).

The ABA also argued that disclosing the Cooley decision was mandatory based on both ABA rules and guidance from the U.S. Department of Education that task the council of Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar with accrediting law schools.

The ABA letter (PDF) detailing the finding is dated Nov. 13. It describes an appeal brought by Cooley and heard by the section’s council after a September 2017 accreditation committee finding that the school was not in compliance with Standard 501(b), which focuses on admissions, and Interpretation 501-1, which discusses factors to consider in admissions. After a Nov. 4 council meeting, the body adopted a motion affirming the Accreditation Committee’s fact-finding and accreditation conclusions.

The council also affirmed the committee’s recommendation to defer a major change request made by Cooley until the law school could demonstrate that it is in compliance with each accreditation standard.

Various media organizations have written about the Nov. 13 letter and Cooley’s court filings, the ABA writes in its response. That includes a Nov. 14 tweet by the Wall Street Journal’s Jacob Gershman; a Nov. 15 blog post from Pepperdine Law School Dean Paul Caron at TaxProf Blog; and a Nov. 16 blog post by the ABA Journal.

“The cat left the bag some time ago, and no preliminary injunction could possibly stuff it back in,” the ABA response states.

Cooley filed its reply brief (PDF) on Nov. 19. It argues that the ABA’s Nov. 13 decision was not a “final decision … to take adverse action.” Also, the reply states that the law school asked the ABA to delay publishing the letter to its website for “a few hours,” until the court had time to hear from both parties.

“But like a cat who looks you in the eye while he pushes a cup off a table,[the] ABA decided to publish the decision anyway, and now claims that the injuryit caused means the court will no longer be able to fashion Cooley a remedy,” the law school wrote in its Nov. 19 reply.

As of Nov. 20 at 5:12 p,m. CT, the letter remains posted on the ABA website.

The court at a Wednesday status hearing urged the parties to exchange proposed joint statements, according to Cooley’s response filing. During a Nov. 17 conference call, the ABA rejected the law school’s proposal, according to the filing.

Neither Don LeDuc, the president and dean of Cooley Law, or Barry Currier, the ABA’s managing director of accreditation and legal education, responded to ABA Journal interview requests. The council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar has a long-standing practice of not commenting on pending litigation.

Cooley’s median GPA is 2.90, and the median LSAT score is 141, according to the law school’s 509 Report (PDF) for 2016. The school had 1,209 students, according to the document. Cooley’s website lists five campus locations.

Tuition at the law school is $1,770 per credit hour for the first 30 credits, and $1,695 per credit hour for “31 and more” credits, according to its website. Out of 462 graduates in the class of 2016, 141 had full-time, long-term jobs that required bar passage, according to WMU Cooley Law’s employment summary (PDF).

Final statistics for the Michigan July 2017 bar exam have not been made public yet. For the July 2016 Michigan bar exam, WMU Cooley Law’s pass rate was 41 percent (72/175) overall, and 61 percent (52/85) for first-time test takers, according to data (PDF) released by the Michigan State Board of Law Examiners.

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Husch Blackwell cuts about 40 lawyers through layoffs and retirements

Posted by on Nov 21, 2017 in Elder Care | Comments Off on Husch Blackwell cuts about 40 lawyers through layoffs and retirements

Law Firms

Husch Blackwell says it is cutting about 40 partners and of counsel from its ranks through retirements and “year-end transitions.”

The percentage of lawyers leaving the firm is around 4 percent, report the American Lawyer (sub. req.) and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

“Given our firm’s size and scale, these attorney transitions are expected and normal,” the firm said in a statement.

Husch Blackwell said it continuously evaluates “whether the firm’s services match trending market demands and client need, and the firm periodically increases and decreases capacity across practices as needs dictate.”

Such departures are partly offset by new attorney hires throughout the year, the firm said. Husch Blackwell had a net increase of 12 lawyers for the 12-month period ending Oct. 30.

Husch Blackwell jumped to No. 96 in the American Lawyer rankings as a result of increased income due to a merger last year.

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Justice Department sues to block AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner; Trump tweets may factor in case

Posted by on Nov 21, 2017 in Elder Care | Comments Off on Justice Department sues to block AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner; Trump tweets may factor in case

Antitrust Law



The U.S. Justice Department on Monday filed an antitrust suit seeking to block AT&T’s $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner.

The suit points out that AT&T’s DirecTV is the nation’s largest distributor of traditional subscription television, and Time Warner owns many top TV networks, including TNT, TBS, CNN, and HBO. The Washington Post has coverage.

After a merger, AT&T and its DirecTV unit could force rivals to pay hundreds of millions of dollars more per year for Time Warner’s networks, the suit says. The merged company could also use its power to slow adoption of “new and exciting video distribution models,” according to the suit. The result would be “fewer innovative offerings and higher bills for American families,” the suit maintains.

According to the Post, the antitrust suit is unusual because it opposes a merger of two different kinds of companies—a telecom and a media and entertainment company. Such vertical mergers “are routinely approved,” according to a statement by AT&T general counsel David McAtee published by the Post and Politico.

Some critics have suggested that the Justice Department wants to block the acquisition because President Donald Trump has criticized CNN’s reporting. The Justice Department and the White House have denied the accusation. AT&T has said it could fight the case by seeking evidence of communications about the deal between the White House and the Justice Department.

In addition, Trump’s statements about the merger and CNN “are expected to be fodder for AT&T’s arguments in the court case,” according to Politico. In one tweet, Trump released an edited wrestling video showing him hitting a man whose head was replaced with the CNN logo.

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University of Illinois at Chicago reveals ‘preliminary discussions’ to add John Marshall Law School

Posted by on Nov 21, 2017 in Elder Care | Comments Off on University of Illinois at Chicago reveals ‘preliminary discussions’ to add John Marshall Law School

Law Schools

John Marshall Law School logo.

The University of Illinois at Chicago revealed on Monday that it has been in “preliminary discussions” with the John Marshall Law School to explore absorbing it into the university.

John Marshall would be the only public law school in the city were it to become part of the university, which already has a law school in Champaign-Urbana. Crain’s Chicago Business broke the news.

UIC officials disclosed the talks in a memo to the “UIC community” that included a link to a page of frequently asked questions. Chicago is one of very few major cities in the country without a public law school, according to the FAQ page.

Informal discussions have been underway for 16 months. A study concluded that a merger would be financially feasible.

If an agreement is reached, the law school would remain at its downtown location. The new name will be discussed by working groups at both institutions, but one possibility is the University of Illinois at Chicago’s John Marshall Law School. Students at the law school would become UIC students, and the law school would become a school within the university.

Several approvals would be needed for John Marshall to become part of UIC, including approval by the Illinois Board of Higher Education and the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, according to the FAQ page.

Law students would benefit from a combination with new “opportunities for interdisciplinary work and potential new joint and dual-degree programs aligned with UIC strengths, in disciplines such as the health sciences, engineering and technology, urban planning, public administration, the social sciences and business,” according to UIC.

It’s not the first time the two institutions discussed a partnership or merger. Discussions were launched in 1998, but the negotiations ended in 2001. At that time, some leaders at U of I’s downstate law school were reportedly “chafing at the prospect of a sibling that could drain resources,” according to a
1999 Chicago Tribune article.

In the most recent rankings by U.S. News & World Report, the University of Illinois School of Law is ranked No. 44 in the country, while the ranking for John Marshall in Chicago was not published, meaning it was among the bottom quarter of law schools.

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California sees increase in pass rates for July 2017 despite denying requests to lower cut score

Posted by on Nov 21, 2017 in Elder Care | Comments Off on California sees increase in pass rates for July 2017 despite denying requests to lower cut score

Bar Exam

bar exam

After the California Supreme Court’s rejection of requests to lower the state bar exam cut score, the July 2017 overall pass rate rose about six percentage points to 49.6 percent.

Results were announced Friday by the State Bar of California. Comparatively, the overall California bar pass rate for July 2016 was 43 percent, TaxProf Blog reported.

For first-time test-takers who graduated from ABA-accredited law schools in California, the July 2017 pass rate was 70 percent. First-time test takers who graduated from ABA-accredited law schools outside California had a 67 percent pass rate. And for state-accredited California law schools that do not have ABA accreditation, the first-time pass rate was 33 percent.

The California Supreme Court had been asked to change the cut score from 1440 to something between 1350 and 1390. Requests to make the change came from the state bar’s Law School Council and the Association of California Accredited Law Schools, a group whose members are law schools with state accreditation but not ABA accreditation. In October, the state supreme court announced that for the time being, the cut score would remain the same.

Since June 2016, four states—Idaho, Montana, Nevada and Oregon—lowered their bar exam cut scores, Judith A. Gundersen, president of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, told the ABA Journal. And one state, Connecticut, effective with the February 2017 exam, raised its cut score to 266 from 264. Its overall July 2017 pass rate is 70 percent, compared to 69 percent in July 2016. The state’s bar exam data can be seen here (PDF) and here (PDF).

Unlike California, Connecticut, Idaho, Montana, Nevada and Oregon are among the 28 jurisdictions that participate in the Uniform Bar Examination, with total scores reported on a 400-point scale.

Judith A. Gundersen,president of the National Conference of Bar Examiners.

Among states with recently reduced cut scores, Oregon saw one of the largest pass rate increases, according to publicly available information. Its overall pass rate for July 2017 was 79 percent, compared to a 58 percent pass rate for July 2016, according to board of bar examiners’ data. The state reduced its cut score from 284 to 274, effective for the July 2017 bar exam.

In Montana, the July 2017 overall state bar pass rate was 85 percent, according to an announcement on the state bar’s website. In 2016, the Great Falls Tribune reported that for the past two years, Montana’s overall bar passage rate was below 70 percent.

The cut score was adjusted by the state supreme court in May 2016, Montana Lawyer (PDF) reported, going from 270 to 266. The adjustment was applied retroactively to people who failed the state bar with scores between 266 and 269 and took the exam between July 2013 and February 2016.

In Nevada, which reduced its cut score from 140 to 138, the July 2017 bar exam “unofficial pass rate” was 66 percent, according to information (PDF) released by the state bar. The exam’s “unofficial pass rate” was 51 percent for July 2016, according to information released by the agency.

Brian T. Kunzi, director of admissions for the State Bar of Nevada, told the ABA Journal that changing the cut score was only one factor that led to the July 2017 pass rate increase.

“Our mean [Multistate Bar Exam] improved 3.1 points in July 2017 as compared to July 2016. The strength of this cohort, as demonstrated by the return to more historical levels of performance on the MBE in contrast to the recent dip in performance, suggested our pass rate would rebound as well. The impact of the change in MBE scores is far more telling than a change in the cut score,” he wrote in an email.

The Idaho state bar exam pass rate for July 2017 was 76.2 percent, compared to 72.5 percent in July 2016, according to the state bar website. Idaho reduced its cut score from 280 to 272, effective for the February 2017 exam.

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Ohio high court justice condemns sexual-indiscretion ‘feeding frenzy,’ defends ‘heterosexual males’

Posted by on Nov 18, 2017 in Elder Care | Comments Off on Ohio high court justice condemns sexual-indiscretion ‘feeding frenzy,’ defends ‘heterosexual males’


Bill O'Neill

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O’Neill. Image from Twitter.

Updated: An Ohio Supreme Court justice who is running as a Democrat for governor has created a firestorm in a Facebook post asserting he was “sooooo disappointed by this national feeding frenzy about sexual indiscretions decades ago.”

Justice Bill O’Neill wrote the post Friday, the Cincinnati Enquirer and the Dayton Daily News report. “Now that the dogs of war are calling for the head of Senator Al Franken, I believe it is time to speak up on behalf of all heterosexual males,” he said.

He went on to say he has been “sexually intimate with approximately 50 very attractive females” during the last 50 years. One woman was “a gorgeous blonde” with whom he made love in the hayloft of her parents’ barn, and another was a “drop dead gorgeous red head,” he said.

O’Neill confirmed that he wrote the post. It has been shortened from a previous version with more identifying information about two women he mentioned.

Four hours after he posted, more than 350 people had commented. “Your attitude toward women who are finally brave enough to speak out about their experiences is disgusting,” one commenter wrote.

The reaction extended beyond Facebook. O’Neill’s campaign manager tweeted his resignation, three women running for governor as Democrats called for O’Neill to resign, and Ohio Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor issued a statement condemning the Facebook post “in no uncertain terms.”

“No words can convey my shock,” O’Connor wrote. “This gross disrespect for women shakes the public’s confidence in the integrity of the judiciary.”

Franken, a Minnesota Democrat, has been accused of forcibly kissing a fellow entertainer in 2006 while practicing a skit on a USO tour. The woman also says Franken groped her breasts while she was asleep and chronicled the misconduct in a photograph.

O’Neill was already creating controversy by remaining on the Ohio Supreme Court while running for governor. The Ohio Code of Judicial Conduct requires judges running for partisan office to resign; O’Neill contends the ethics rule doesn’t apply to him because he has not yet filed his petitions for candidacy, according to the Dayton Daily News.

O’Neill has previously said he will drop out of the race if Richard Cordray decides to run. Cordray has announced he is resigning as director of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

O’Neill’s post, which was later taken down:

O’Neill later put up this post:

Updated 7:49 p.m. to note that the original post was taken down and another posted.

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Law grad with criminal record can sit for state bar, Washington Supreme Court rules

Posted by on Nov 18, 2017 in Elder Care | Comments Off on Law grad with criminal record can sit for state bar, Washington Supreme Court rules

Bar Exam

After a Thursday hearing with many questions centered on the substance abuse recovery of Tarra Simmons—a 2017 law school graduate who also has an addiction history, as well as prior theft and drug possession convictions—the Washington Supreme Court ruled that she can sit for the state bar.

The order (PDF), released Thursday evening, reverses an earlier 6-3 finding from the Washington State Bar Association Character and Fitness Board. Simmons, a Seattle University School of Law graduate who also received a Skadden Fellowship to help people recently released from prison, announced in May that she would appeal the character and fitness board finding.

Simmons, a mother by the age of 15 who also worked as a registered nurse for 11 years, has said that she became addicted to prescription drugs and methamphetamine after her father died, as self-medication for depression. In 2011, she was charged with felony theft, drug possession and gun possession. She pleaded guilty to the drug and theft charges and served 20 months in state prison.

“I am very grateful for my brilliant legal team and the community that came together to support me and take a stand for second chances. People do rehabilitate, and we must do more to remove barriers that keep people unable to fully reintegrate,” Simmons wrote in an email to the ABA Journal.

Shon Hopwood, a Georgetown University Law professor, argued Simmons’ appeal. Like Simmons, Hopwood also has a felony conviction and went to law school in the state of Washington.

Much of Hopwood’s opening statement centered on Simmons’ history. Simmons experienced trauma and sexual assault as a child, he said, and the first time she had treatment for that or for drug addiction was in prison.

At the hearing, the court noted that the character and fitness board’s majority finding said that Simmons gave them the impression that her application shouldn’t be questioned by the agency because she had received the Skadden Fellowship. Simmons mentioned the fellowship more than 30 times during the hearing, Jean McElroy, the Washington State Bar Association’s chief regulatory counsel, told court.

“I wonder if you think it’s reasonable for when a person who as a child had been raped, sexually assaulted, homeless, on the streets, hungry and addicted to drugs finally gets a fellowship that gives her the opportunity to serve the people she wants to help … wouldn’t that be something you’re so very proud of, wouldn’t you want everybody to know? Might you mention it even 50 times?” Justice Mary Yu asked McElroy during oral arguments.

“I definitely think that’s reasonable,” McElroy responded.

When Simmons announced that her application was denied by the state bar’s character and fitness board, the Skadden Foundation stated that Simmons could keep her fellowship, regardless of whether she was admitted to the bar.

“We are thrilled to be associated with Tarra and deeply believed in her from the minute we met her,” Susan Butler Plum, the director of the Skadden Foundation, wrote in a Thursday email to the ABA Journal.

Shon Hopwood

Screenshot of Georgetown University Law professor Shon Hopwood, who argued Tarra Simmons’ appeal before the Washington Supreme Court.

During the hearing, a fair amount of questions from the Washington Supreme Court justices centered on how long a bar candidate with prior convictions and an addiction history should be in recovery, to give the court a good sense of whether he or she will stay clean. Based on various studies, that generally would be five years, according to Hopwood.

“If the court were to set five years as a guideline, it would provide some sort of certainty to this process where currently there is none,” he said, adding that five years may not be enough for felons who engaged in long periods of fraud and don’t have histories of trauma and drug addiction.

Hopwood also expressed the importance of engaging in some sort of recovery support. While Simmons was in law school, she had various internships and externships, and lawyers who wrote character and fitness letters on her behalf noted that during stressful situations, she’d look to her recovery community for support.

In the Nov. 16 order, the Washington Supreme Court wrote that an opinion on matter is forthcoming.

Thomas Fitzpatrick, a Seattle attorney and a member of the ABA Center for Professional Responsibility, hopes that the court will address the time issue for recovery.

“We have been kind of fussing at the supreme court to give us some guidance in this area, maybe they are taking that to heart,” Fitzpatrick says. He adds that frequently, the Washington Supreme Court nixes character and fitness committee admissions recommendations without giving a reason.

“That’s been our big frustration. It’s not fair to people who will spend three years of time, effort and money to go to law school,” says Fitzpatrick, a partner with Seattle’s Talmadge/Fitzpatrick/Tribe.

According to him, most state courts have little guidance on the issue, and if the Washington Supreme Court adopts some sort of time standard for evaluating a JD candidate’s chances at staying in recovery, the finding would likely be used by other states as well.

Among people with addiction who try to stop using, in the first year approximately one-third are successful, says Patrick Krill, a lawyer and addiction counselor. After one year of abstinence, he adds, less than half are likely to relapse, and by five years, the chances of relapsing are less than 15 percent.

Working with the ABA and Hazelden Betty Ford, Krill was a co author on the 2016 study about lawyers and addiction that was published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine.

“I think the court reached the right decision, and it sends an important message to the profession that you can rehabilitate yourself, and if you take the matter seriously, there is a place for you in the legal community,” he said.

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FBI’s latest crime report missing nearly 70 percent of its usual data tables

Posted by on Nov 18, 2017 in Elder Care | Comments Off on FBI’s latest crime report missing nearly 70 percent of its usual data tables

Criminal Justice

FBI building

The FBI’s most recent “Crime in the United States” report lacks almost 70 percent of data tables it provided in the 2015 report, according to Human Rights Watch.

The report, created through the Uniform Crime Reporting program, is considered by many as the gold standard of crime data in the United States. It collects crime, arrest and police data from around the country. It is used by researchers and policymakers to inform their criminal justice work.

Human Rights Watch quantitative analyst Brian Root wrote on the HRW blog that “this shift toward greater opacity in policing is especially worrying considering the Trump Administration’s efforts to roll back police accountability.”

Root writes that the “bulk of the data the FBI has suddenly stopped providing the public is related to arrests,” and he argues this is critical data to hold police departments accountable for potential human rights abuses.

When news organization FiveThirtyEight asked the FBI about this change in October, a representative for the agency said that the decision was based on low web traffic accessing the data.

After that piece and comment were published, Department of Justice spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle called it “a false narrative” and that the tables had been planned for deletion since 2010, according to a follow-up article by FiveThirtyEight released this week.

There has been a UCR Redevelopment Project in place since the beginning of the decade, FiveThirtyEight reported. But “while it is possible that reducing the number of available data tables was always a goal of the UCR Redevelopment Project, we were unable to identify any evidence of this objective in any publicly available publications (PDF) or presentations on the subject.”

Rather, FiveThirtyEight found that the project’s goal was “to manage the acquisition, development, and integration of a new and improved data collection system.”

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‘Judges wear robes, not capes,’ Gorsuch says in Federalist Society speech

Posted by on Nov 18, 2017 in Elder Care | Comments Off on ‘Judges wear robes, not capes,’ Gorsuch says in Federalist Society speech



U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch.

Justice Neil Gorsuch got some laughs as he referred to criticism of the Federalist Society and one of his own court rulings in a speech before the group in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.

“You’re a bunch of radicals,” Gorsuch told the group after it greeted him with a standing ovation. He went on to joke about claims that the Federalist Society is a secretive organization working behind the scenes to install like-minded judges and administrative officials.

“If you’re going to have a meeting of a secret organization, maybe don’t have it in the middle of Union Station and then tell everybody to wear a black tie,” Gorsuch said in a remark reported by Law.com (sub. req.) and Politico. CNN also has a story.

Much of Gorsuch’s speech concerned his originalist and textualist views. It’s a judge’s duty to say what the law is, rather than what it should be, Gorush said. “In our legal system, judges wear robes, not capes,” he said.

He made the point by referring to the so-called “frozen trucker case” in which he argued in an appellate dissent that a company could legally fire a trucker who refused an order to stay with his truck after its brakes froze. The trucker had argued he couldn’t wait for a repair vehicle any longer because he was numb and experiencing slurred speech. The case became an issue during Gorsuch’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing.

Gorsuch said good judges often look at a law and realize three things, according to the Law.com account.

“One, the law is telling me to do something really, really stupid,” he said. “Two, the law is constitutional and I have no choice but to do that really stupid thing the law requires. And three, when it’s done, everyone who’s not a lawyer is going to think I just hate truckers.”

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Grassley schedules hearings for two appellate judicial nominees despite blue-slip objections

Posted by on Nov 18, 2017 in Elder Care | Comments Off on Grassley schedules hearings for two appellate judicial nominees despite blue-slip objections


Chuck Grassley

Screenshot of Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley is scheduling hearings for two nominees to federal appeals courts despite blue-slip opposition.

Grassley said Thursday he would schedule hearings for David Stras, nominated to the St, Louis-based 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and Kyle Duncan, nominated to the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, report the Hill, Politico and BuzzFeed News. How Appealing links to additional coverage.

The blue-slip practice requires consent from home state senators, traditionally on a blue slip of paper, before the Senate Judiciary Committee proceeds with a federal judicial nomination.

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., has said he won’t return a blue slip supporting Stras because of concerns he will be “a deeply conservative” judge. Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., has said he is undecided on Duncan but he doesn’t oppose a hearing.

Grassley said the Democrats should not be using blue slips to replace the filibuster, which the Democrats had themselves abolished.

He added that he is less likely to proceed when a district court nominee is opposed by two home state senators. “But circuit courts cover multiple states,” he said. “There’s less reason to defer to the views of a single state’s senator for such nominees.”

Related article:

ABAJournal.com: “Senate Majority Leader says judicial nominees should be confirmed absent blue-slip approval”

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