FOURTH CIRCUIT VACANCY NEWS
As the now significantly understaffed Fourth Circuit heads toward its summer recess — the last oral arguments of the term are scheduled for this week — the thoughts of appellate lawyers and politicians alike now turn to who will be nominated to replace Judge Michael Luttig, who retired abruptly on May 10. The Roanoke Times has this story on some possible names, all of whom are Virginians. The article notes that “each state has traditionally been allotted a certain number of seats” on the court, and this one emphatically bears the watermark of the Old Dominion.
Keep in mind while reading the list of potential nominees that, given Congress’ reticence to approve several previous appointments, the lucky selection may or may not find himself (all of those listed are males) actually moving into new office space anytime soon. While I do not engage in speculation as to who will fill a given seat on a court, it is clear to me that Congressional Republicans will do what they can to get the nomination moving very quickly, as many political observers see the handwriting on the wall for the November midterm elections. Even so, with three other nominations languishing on Capitol Hill, it is not a safe bet to assume that any nominee who is closely identified with a strongly conservative background will be speedily considered. The only nominees who might fare well would be political moderates who would appeal (sorry) to both sides of the aisle, and given the political climate these days, it seems unlikely to me that the GOP would name such a centrist.