Editorial on Judicial Nominations Cites Paper by Columbia Law Schools Michael L. Shenkman 06
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New York, Oct. 17, 2012—In an editorial today on politics and the courts, The New York Times advocates a “more efficient, less political approach to district court confirmations,” proposed by Michael L. Shenkman ’06, fellow of Columbia Law School’s Center for Law and Politics and Lecturer-in-Law.
Shenkman’s June 2012 paper, “Decoupling District from Circuit Judge Nominations: A Proposal to Put Trial Bench Confirmations on Track,” explores what he considers to be the failing state of the district judge nomination process and proposes a package of procedural reforms to repair it.
He wrote the paper based on his observation of new across-the-board delays in the process for nominating and confirming federal trial judges. In his view, “emerging norms of obstruction threaten the ability of people throughout the country to count on the federal courts for timely resolution of their cases.” As recent evidence, he points to 15 district judge nominees who were reported from the Senate Judiciary Committee but left unconfirmed by the Senate prior to its pre-election recess in September. Twelve of those nominees received unanimous or near-unanimous support in the Judiciary Committee and 10 of them would fill a judicial emergency seat.
Shenkman directs the Law School’s Externship on the Federal Government in Washington, D.C., and teaches related seminars on government ethics and government lawyering. He was an appointee to the U.S. Department of Justice from 2009 to 2011, where he worked primarily on judicial nominations in the Office of Legal Policy and also served in assignments in the Justice Department’s Office of Intergovernmental and Public Liaison and in the White House Office of Communications.
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