In October 2014, we released “The Judges of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit,” a report detailing the impact of the nation’s oldest circuit court vacancy and examining the record of the judges of the Seventh Circuit. At that time, there was no nominee for Judge Terence Evans’ seat in Wisconsin, which had been vacant for almost five years. The report showed a divided court on which a longstanding vacancy directly influenced the outcome of important constitutional issues. The report also detailed the efforts of Republican Senator Ron Johnson to delay filling the vacancy.
A year later, the Wisconsin seat remains unfilled, and another judge, Judge John Tinder of Indiana, took senior status in February 2015, leaving the court with only nine active judges. To restore the Seventh Circuit’s full complement of judges, President Obama nominated Donald K. Schott from Wisconsin and Myra C. Selby from Indiana on January 12, 2016.
We’re now issuing an updated version of the report to highlight these nominations and the significant constitutional and statutory cases the Seventh Circuit has decided over the past 14 months. The report illustrates the deleterious effect vacancies can have when fundamental constitutional rights hang in the balance, and profiles the recent judicial record of the court’s active judges.
For too long, the Seventh Circuit has been forced to resolve major constitutional questions shorthanded. Schott and Selby are eminently qualified to serve on the court, and Selby would add much needed diversity—only four of the 55 judges who’ve served on the Seventh Circuit have been women, and Selby would be both the first woman and first African American from Indiana to serve on the court.
Now it’s up to the Senate’s Republican majority to confirm them.