TBA Law Blog

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Posted by: Kate Prince on Apr 15, 2021

A group of Democratic lawmakers today introduced legislation that would expand the U.S. Supreme by four justices, the ABA Journal reports. The bill, called the Judiciary Act of 2021, was introduced by Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-NY, Sen. Edward Markey, D-MA, Rep. Hank Johnson, D-GA, and Mondaire Jones, D-NY. “Thirteen justices for 13 circuits is a sensible progression,” Nadler said of the legislation. The Supreme court has had nine justices since 1869, according to Reuters. At other times, Congress has changed the size of the high court, ranging from six to 10 justices. President Joe Biden has previously indicated he is not a fan of “court packing.”

Posted by: Kate Prince on Apr 6, 2021

Madison County Juvenile Court Judge Christy Little and other local children’s advocates last week met with U.S. Sen. Bill Hagerty, R-TN, to discuss the needs of children dealing with mental illness and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), the Jackson Sun reports. Little was joined by executives from the Madison County CASA and West Tennessee Healthcare and Juvenile Court Services Director Amy Jones. The group, hoping to obtain Hagerty’s support for federal funding, spoke with the senator about the financial issues that are preventing children in Madison County and rural West Tennessee from getting the things they need. Little added that children dealing with ACEs and other mental illness need more consistent and permanent help from an early age. “And if we could somehow get funding for that type of help on the front end, it would solve a lot of issues we deal with when they come into this courtroom,” she said.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Apr 5, 2021

Nashville nonprofit leader Odessa Kelly today announced plans to challenge longtime U.S. Congressman Jim Cooper, D-Nashville, in the August 2022 party primary. Kelly has the support of Justice Democrats, the national organization that helped elevate “The Squad” — a group of left-leaning members of the House of Representatives. She is the first candidate to be endorsed by the group for the 2022 cycle and would be the first openly gay Black woman to represent Tennessee in the nation’s capital. Cooper, who has represented the 5th Congressional District since 2003, has developed a reputation as a moderate Democrat, the Nashville Scene reports.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Mar 26, 2021

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday unanimously approved Lisa Monaco, the Biden administration’s nominee for deputy attorney general nominee, by voice vote without debate. If confirmed by the full Senate she will serve as the second ranking official at the Department of Justice. The committee then turned its attention to the nomination of Vanita Gupta as associate attorney general, the third ranking official at the department. After a “bitterly divided” debate, the committee forwarded the nomination to the full Senate on a tied vote, Reuters reports.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Mar 25, 2021

Judge Bernice Donald, with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, testified today before the U.S. House of Representatives on “The Importance of a Diverse Federal Judiciary.” Donald appeared before the House Judiciary Committee and spoke about how diversity on the bench reinforces the legitimacy of the institution of the courts and respect for the rule of law among the public. She also spoke about how diversity of lived experiences helps judicial panels look more like the people they serve, an element, she said, which is essential for our concept of justice. Read more about the hearing from Law.com.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Mar 24, 2021

A bill that would strike the name of the late Clifford Davis from Memphis's downtown federal building passed the U.S. House of Representatives’ Transportation Committee today, the Commercial Appeal reports. The bill, sponsored by Memphis Democrat Rep. Steve Cohen, would keep the other name on the building, that of Odell Horton, the state’s first Black federal judge following the Reconstruction Era. Cohen spoke to the committee about Davis's racist past, noting that had been a strong proponent of Jim Crow laws and a member of the Ku Klux Klan. The bill now goes to the House floor for a vote.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Mar 19, 2021

The U.S. House passed two bills yesterday that would grant legal status to two groups of immigrants living and working in the United States without documentation, Tennessee Lookout reports. The first provides a pathway to citizenship for hundreds of thousands brought to the country as children who now are protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The second bill would give legal status to agricultural workers. The Biden administration supports both bills but also noted it wants Congress to take up broader immigration reform, like the U.S. Citizenship Act. That bill, based on Biden’s policy priorities, would pair these measures with efforts to give legal status to millions more immigrants, fund border security measures and provide aid to Latin American countries to address the root causes of migration.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Mar 10, 2021

Members of the Democratic Women's Caucus have introduced legislation to create a monument in honor of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the U.S. Capitol or on capitol grounds, WSMV reports. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, has introduced a companion bill in the Senate. Ginsburg died in September 2020 at age 87 after serving for 27 years on the high court.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Mar 10, 2021

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery and Secretary of State Tre Hargett have signed letters written by their Republican colleagues criticizing H.R. 1, a Democratic-backed federal voting rights bill making its way through the U.S. legislature. Slatery signed on to a letter written by the Indiana attorney general contending that the measure betrays “Constitutional deficiencies and alarming mandates that, if passed, would federalize state elections and impose burdensome costs and regulations on state and local officials.” Hargett signed on to a letter written by the Alabama secretary of state, which claims the bill is “a dangerous overreach by the federal government” into state-run elections. The bill passed the U.S. House along party lines last week. Tennessee Lookout has more on the legislation.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Mar 10, 2021

The U.S. Senate today confirmed Merrick Garland as the nation’s next attorney general, The Hill reports. Senators voted 70-30 to approve the nomination, easily topping the 50 votes needed. The paper notes that the vote came just days before the five-year anniversary of when then-President Obama nominated Garland to fill the U.S. Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Garland never received a hearing on that nomination. He has been serving on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals since 1997.

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