Democrats Waste No Time, Submit List for Appeals Court Vacancy

By William Peacock, Esq. on January 07, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Curious about the Eleventh Circuit vacancies? After a long-rumored bipartisan deal came to fruition last month, that left only one vacancy on the Circuit Court of Appeals: Judge Joel Dubina's recently-vacated spot, created when he moved to senior status late last year.

Assuming the seven pending nominees are confirmed, that would leave the Circuit Court of Appeals bench with eight Democratic appointees (one of whom was rumored to be picked by the Republicans as part of the deal, and had previously been appointed to the district court by a Republican president) and three Republican appointees, plus Dubina's vacancy.

And though the backlog of nominations seems to be clearing, based on the years it took to fill other vacancies in the circuit, we expected Dubina's seat to be vacant for a while.

It may still be, but the Democratic Party isn't sitting on its hands, reports the Montgomery Advisor. The party submitted a list of recommended candidates after interviewing ten individuals and reviewing two other applications. Their six selections were:

  • Tamara Harris Johnson, a Birmingham lawyer;
  • Jeff McLaughlin, a former state legislator and attorney from Guntersville;
  • Ben Morris, a Birmingham lawyer;
  • Collins Pettaway, Dallas County circuit judge;
  • Susan Redmond, a federal prosecutor in Montgomery;
  • Mark Sabel, a Montgomery lawyer.

Who will be the eventual nominee? It could be one of these six names, or someone else entirely.

The Advisor notes that Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Birmingham, is the lone Democrat from Alabama in Congress. As such, she gets to make recommendations to President Obama as well.

Wisely, she is working with Sens. Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions, both Republicans, on her own list. As we've seen with other nominees (specifically Jill Pryor), the bipartisan cooperation is necessary, because senators can quash nominations via blue slips.

There are currently six vacancies with no nominees pending in the Eleventh Circuit, including Judge Dubina's seat. The other five vacancies are in the district courts, two in Alabama and three in Florida.

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