Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Pryor ready with federal judge picks

Posted By on Wed, Jul 20, 2011 at 10:08 AM

COLETTE HONORABLE: New name on judicial list.
  • COLETTE HONORABLE: New name on judicial list.
U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor has completed a list of three candidates for the White House to consider for a vacant federal district judgeship in the eastern district of Arkansas. (It has been open since Judge James Moody took senior status.) All are women and one is an African-American.

Two of them we mentioned earlier — Jane Duke, first assistant on the U.S. attorney's staff who has been acting U.S. attorney, and Kris Baker, a partner in the Quattlebaum law firm in Little Rock and former federal law clerk. The third is Public Service Commission Chairman Colette Honorable. Honorable is black.

I mention race because President Obama has made a push for diversity on the federal bench, but has shown little progress on that front in Arkansas. On three judicial vacancies so far, two white men have been confirmed and a white woman, Judge Susan Hickey of El Dorado, is before the Senate for confirmation. The two U.S. attorneys and two federal marshals appointed in Arkansas have all been white men.

UPDATE: Pryor announced the names in his weekly conference call. He said all brought "unique backgrounds," but all "could serve with distinction." Sen. John Boozman joined Pryor in recommending the three.

ALSO: Pryor said he was one of the first, if not THE first, to sign on to the Gang of Six spending plan, which he said hoped would become a Gang of 60. He said it is "real" and "meaningful," with $3.6 trillion in cuts over 10 years, plus an "initial down payment" of $500 million in cuts that would be painful. "But most people understand we need to tighten our belts." He added, "We hope this will be THE bipartisan vehicle people can rally around." He said the "cut, cap and balance" plan approved by the House last night was not good for Arkansas or the country. He said a central flaw was that it wasn't a bipartisan effort. He said it's time to stop pushing things that "sound good on bumper stickers," but "are never going to go anywhere." In response to questions, he said he thought the Aug. 2 deadline for lifting the debt ceiling was "real" and there were real consequences for failure to act. He defended including tax revenue in a compromise plan, particularly by closing "loopholes" and "giveaways."

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