Central to the work you do to achieve justice for your clients is a federal judiciary that is independent and fair-minded, comprised of judges who are committed to equal justice under law for all Americans, and who do not place the interests of employers above the rights of employees. Over the past year, NELA has advocated for a federal judiciary that reflects the full diversity of the legal profession—including those who represent workers, the poor, immigrants, and other disenfranchised members of our country. Our February 2012 report, “Judicial Hostility To Workers’ Rights: The Case For Professional Diversity On The Federal Bench,” was widely distributed and relied upon by stakeholders involved in the judicial selection process. (If you missed the report, you can find it on our website at www.nela.org, or on The NELA Exchange.) As we head into 2013, NELA will continue to work with the White House, the Senate, and our coalition partners to ensure this goal is realized. You can play a critical role in this effort by identifying qualified individuals in your NELA affiliate, local community, and elsewhere who are interested in becoming a federal judge. You can also play a crucial role in this effort by working with NELA and your own Senators to ensure that consensus nominees are expeditiously considered and voted upon by the Senate.
As I write this, there are 101 federal judicial vacancies, 59 without nominees—41 current vacancies and 17 future vacancies. Drilling down further, 18 vacancies exist in our appellate courts and 83 in the district courts, of which 33 have been designated as judicial emergencies. (For the latest information on judicial vacancies, visit the Alliance for Justice’s website at www.afj.org.)
Over the next four years, President Obama has the opportunity to leave a legacy of judicial appointments that support our values of fairness and equal justice under law for all. Through our Judicial Nominations Committee, NELA will continue to take an active role in assessing candidates nominated to federal judgeships, as well as individuals interested in becoming candidates for such vacancies. NELA promotes candidates who possess excellent professional and legal credentials, are faithful to the progress made on civil rights and individual liberties, and have an understanding of the real world circumstances that employees face on the job and in vindicating their workplace rights when they are violated.
The number of judicial vacancies has created a national crisis, requiring workers to wait years before they ever see the inside of a courtroom. If you are interested in becoming a federal judge, or know of someone who is, please contact Julie M. Strandlie, NELA Legislative & Public Policy Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 898-2880, ext. 115.
Justice delayed is justice denied, but together we can change this course. Let’s do it!
Terisa E. Chaw
National Employment Lawyers Association