Rumored Bipartisan Deal for 11th Cir. Seats Just Went Through

By William Peacock, Esq. on December 20, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Who says there's no compromising in today's Washington D.C.?

Way back in September, we passed along a rumor that the White House was mulling over a "West Wing"-like deal to fill the numerous vacancies in the Eleventh Circuit. The Democrats would get their long-desired nominee, Jill Pryor, who was blocked by Georgia's Republican senators last year, while the Republicans would get their choice, Judge Julie Carnes, an extremely qualified district court judge appointed to the bench by President George H. W. Bush.

Judge Pryor's nomination has been pending for over a year. Judge Carnes's nomination was announced this morning.

Speaking of the district court, President Obama's list for those vacancies, sent to the Senate today, includes the Democrats' rumored choice, as well as the Republicans' rumored three choices.

The Full List

We dove into the judges' backgrounds when the rumors broke back in September, but here are the current nominees:

Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals:

District Court:

  • Leigh Martin May
  • Mark Cohen*
  • Judge Eleanor Ross*
  • Judge Michael Boggs*

*rumored Republican choice.

The Impact

On the Court of Appeals, assuming these three nominations go through, that means there will be two Judge Carnes (Julie and Edward) and two Judge Pryors (Jill and William). It also leaves one remaining vacancy, due to former Chief Judge Joel Dubina's move to senior status.

The deal also means that the bench consists of eight Democratic nominees (including Judge Julie Carnes) and three Republican nominees, though six of eight senior judges are Republican nominees. (And obviously, the party making the nomination doesn't necessarily reflect the judge's ideological tilt. See, for example, this rumored deal.)

Other interesting things to note: Mark Cohen, a Republican pick for the District Court, was previously suggested as a Court of Appeals nominee by the Georgia GOP senators that blocked Pryor. Democratic choice Leigh Martin May's nomination was previously blocked in 2009. And Judges Ross and Boggs both come from the state court bench, with Ross coming from DeKalb County and Boggs moving over from the Georgia Court of Appeals.

You may also notice that the deal is 1:1 for the Court of Appeals, and 1:3 for the district court. It may seem like a bad deal for the Democrats, but as we've noted before, with Republican senators holding five out of six seats in Eleventh Circuit states, they have a blue slip veto over nominations, and as a result, a lot of leverage in negotiations.

Congratulations to all of the nominees. Considering the bipartisan nature of the list, it seems like confirmation is a foregone conclusion.

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