Mass. senators may wield little influence in federal judge picks

Mass. senators may wield little influence in federal judge picks

BOSTON — The state’s two U.S. senators will have their ideas about who should fill vacancies on the U.S. District Court bench in Massachusetts, but despite longstanding tradition, legal observers say President Donald Trump may not pay them much heed. Of 17 federal judgeships in the state, two slots are open, created by a shift to senior status of U.S. District Court Judges Douglas Woodlock and George O’Toole. A committee formed by U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has been interviewing candidates behind closed doors over the past year and is expected soon to make recommendations to the White House. But Paul Collins Jr., law professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and an expert on judicial politics, said Trump will not necessarily act on those suggestions. “While tradition dictates that home-state senators have a great deal of influence over district court nominations in their states, the Constitution does not require the president to nominate individuals put forward by home-state senators,” Collins said. On a larger scale, Trump has been reshaping the federal judiciary with the encouragement of groups who want more conservative judges. He appointed a new U.S. Supreme Court justice, Neil Gorsuch, who was confirmed by the Senate last year. He’s also appointed 21 appeals court justices and 39 judges to federal district courts, according to the White House. Trump is now expected to choose a replacement for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, who announced his retirement last week at the end of the court’s term. Warren, a […]

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