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VOL. 132 | NO. 140 | Monday, July 17, 2017

‘Fifth Wave’ of Federal Judicial Appointments Comes with Political Undercurrents

By Bill Dries

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The White House called it the “fifth wave” of federal judicial nominees. Among the 11 nominees announced by President Donald Trump Thursday, July 13, were two for the Memphis federal court bench. And the wave comes with a few political undercurrents.

Mark Norris and Tommy Parker would fill positions by U.S. District Judge Samuel Hardy Mays taking senior status and Judge Thomas Anderson’s move from Memphis to the Jackson, Tennessee, part of District Court for the Western District of Tennessee.

TOMMY PARKER and MARK NORRIS

The nominations go to the U.S. Senate for hearings and a confirmation vote starting with the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Parker is a shareholder at Baker Donelson and before that an assistant U.S. attorney for almost a decade. He is a former president of the Memphis Bar Association as well.

President Barack Obama had nominated then-U.S. Attorney Ed Stanton in May 2015 for the position Norris was nominated for last week. But the Senate did not act on that and other judicial nominations.

The nomination of Norris, the state Senate Republican leader and a former Shelby County commissioner as well as special counsel at Adams and Reese LLP, had been anticipated for several months as Norris continued to consider a bid for the Republican nomination for governor on the 2018 ballot.

As late as last week, Norris was saying the governor’s race was still a possibility even with word that the FBI was vetting Norris for the nomination.

Speculation now turns to what happens to Norris’ District 32 Senate seat.

Norris was re-elected to a four-year term in 2016.

How a vacancy would be filled in state Senate District 32 depends on when the Senate votes on Norris’ confirmation.

If there are 12 months or more left on his term of office, there could be a special election called, including primaries, and the Shelby County Commission could appoint someone to serve on an interim basis until the special election, according to the Tennessee Constitution.

If there is less than a year until the next general election for legislators, including the 2018 elections in which District 32 is not on the ballot, the race becomes part of the regular 2018 ballot, with primaries in August and a general election in November. The winner of the seat would then hold office for the remaining two years in the term of office that began New Year’s Day 2017.

And the Shelby County Commission appoints an interim senator to serve until the general election results are certified – also under terms of the Tennessee Constitution.

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