The Senate Judiciary Committee lobbed softballs at six federal judicial nominees, all from Arizona, in a brief hearing Tuesday. It took longer for each judge nominee to introduce their families than the senators (two of them) spent asking questions.
A few interesting facts popped up in what is likely to be an easy vote getting all six out of the committee and onto the full Senate for confirmation.
Diane Humetewa, if confirmed, would be the first female Native American to serve as a federal judge in the country. She is Hopi and worked as a tribal judge on the Hopi reservation in Arizona.
A few of the wannabe federal judges are already judges in other jurisdictions and for some judging is a family affair, with relatives also serving in the state judiciary.
Steven P. Logan, served in the U.S. Marines for 23 years and then as an immigration judge and currently as a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Arizona. A magistrate is an appointed position with an eight-year term. They are appointed by the federal judges in their jurisdiction.
James A. Soto is an Arizona superior court judge in Nogales and has a son and daughter preside in state court in Phoenix and Tempe, Arizona.
John Tuchi said his wife has been a superior court judge in Arizona for 19 years.
Arizona federal judges have been shouldering an excessive caseload with six vacancies on the court. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, said it was unprecedented for the Judiciary Committee to hear from six nominees to the same court all in one hearing. But Arizona is a little short-handed.
The only questions came from Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, who chaired the hearing in place of Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, and Flake.
Flake asked the only meaningful questions, wondering if Tuchi could explain how expansion of jurisdiction of the Violence Against Women Act to Indian tribes is working out. (Tuchi is tribal liaison for the U.S. Attorneys office in Arizona).
He asked Douglas Rayes about an article Rayes wrote called, “Packing Heat,” on the expansion of the right to carry concealed weapons in Arizona. Flake asked if self-defense is a “fundamental right” in the Constitution. Rayes agreed the U.S. Supreme Court has said that it is under the Second Amendment. He added, his concern in writing the article was to educate people in Arizona about the terms of the law so they wouldn’t get in trouble.
Flake asked Rosemary Marquez about whether the Commerce Clause applied to non-economic activity. And that’s about as tough as it got.
They all went home in less than three hours.