Hunter Bates and Ed Pagano Quoted in Law360 Article on Fight for 9th Circuit Seats

Law360 has quoted Hunter Bates and Ed Pagano, partners in the public law and policy practice, which Bates co-heads, at Akin Gump, in the article “Kozinski’s Exit Escalates Fight Over 9th Circ. Seats.” Following the retirement of Judge Alex Kozinski amid allegations of inappropriate behavior, the article reports that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit is set to have the most vacancies of any circuit court in the country next year—one third of the pending or future openings.

Most of the 19 federal judges confirmed this year, as the article notes, drew unanimous opposition from Democrats, but Bates said the 9th Circuit, one of the most liberal-leaning, is too high-stakes to let vacancies slide. “I don’t think the president and Republicans will be willing to let those seats go unfilled. I think there will be an all-out effort to get those judgeships filled in 2018,” he said.

Pagano said filling those seats on the 29-judge 9th Circuit would be a major task for Trump. “I think that is a brewing political battle and an important one for the direction of the courts. The 9th Circuit is the largest circuit. It covers millions of people, affects millions of people, and I think will be quite important to both parties.”

According to the article, the Senate’s tradition of allowing home-state senators to submit a favorable or unfavorable opinion of a court nominee could be in jeopardy. While the Senate Judiciary Committee traditionally takes those views into consideration when deciding whether or not to recommend that the Senate confirm a nominee, Bates said, given Democrats' frequent resistance to Trump’s judicial nominees, it might be hard to find candidates acceptable to both the two home state senators and the administration.

“It has been difficult to find important areas where Democrats and Republicans can agree, and if that trend continues, I think it would be difficult to find nominees that both President Trump and Senate Republicans support and would be supported by Blue State Democrats.”