President Obama Nominates 5 for Texas Federal Courts

The Hipolito F. Garcia federal building
Photo: Allan Baxter/Getty Images

President Barack Obama’s naming Judge Merrick Garland as his pick to replace Justice Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court, has been front and center in the nation’s headlines. Not so high profile was his nomination of five lawyers to serve on federal district court benches in Texas.

Texas Lawyer magazine reports that the president made these nominations this week.

The publication for lawyers reports that Obama’s nominees for the Texas U.S. District Courts include:

  • Walter David Counts, a U.S. Magistrate judge in the Western District (to replace U.S. Senior District Judge Robert Junell of Midland)
  • E. Scott Frost, a U.S. Magistrate judge in the Northern District (to replace U.S. Senior District Judge Sam R. Cummings of Lubbock)
  • James Wesley Hendrix, an assistant U.S. Attorney (to replace U.S. Chief District Judge Jorge Solis of Dallas)
  • Irma Ramirez, a U.S. Magistrate judge in the Northern District (to replace U.S. Senior District Judge Terry Means of Fort Worth)
  • Karen Gren Scholer, a principal in the Dallas law firm of Carter Scholer Arnett Hamada & Mockler (to replace U.S. Senior District Judge Richard Schell of Plano)

Scholer would be the first Asian-American federal district judge in Texas if confirmed, according to Texas Lawyer magazine.

Although Republicans have promised to not consider Obama’s nomination for U.S. Supreme Court justice, his nominations for Texas federal benches are anticipated to be confirmed. They will not be blocked by Texas John Cornyn and Ted Cruz.

The Texas senators are members of the Senate Judiciary Committee which appointed the bipartisan members of the Federal Judicial Evaluation Committee (FJEC), reports the publication for lawyers. The FJEC approved these five Texas federal district court nominees after they screened them.

In a statement from Senator Cornyn, “Texans deserve the best and brightest legal minds on the bench, and I was proud to recommend each of these well-qualified individuals to the White House, Texas Lawyer reported that he said. Cornyn added, “Our judicial system necessitates fair, impartial, and independent jurists, and each of these nominees fit the bill.”

President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland is not expected to reach the floor of the U.S. Senate. Republicans have already vowed that there will be no vote on his nomination through the end of 2016. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said they will abide by the “Biden rule,” i.e. that nominations should not happen in a lame-duck, presidential election year, as reported by Breitbart News.

Breitbart News reported that there are five facts you need to know about Judge Garland:

  1. Garland is considered anti-Second Amendment.
  2. Garland has favored environmental regulations.
  3. His positions on abortion and social issues are murky.
  4. Garland would maintain the Court’s demographic profile. There are no evangelical Protestants on the Court, Garland is a Jew and he like four other justices on the Court, is from Harvard Law School.
  5. Republicans have supported Judge Garland in the past which makes it harder for the GOP to say they oppose him.

Texas Senator and Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz said he opposes Garland. As reported by Breitbart News, Senator Cruz said, “Merrick Garland is exactly the type of Supreme Court nominee you get when you make deals in Washington D.C. A so-called ‘moderate’ Democratic nominee is precisely the kind of deal that Donald Trump has told us he would make—someone who would rule along with other liberals on the bench like Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor. Make no mistake, if Garland were confirmed, he would side predictably with President Obama on critical issues such as undermining the Second Amendment, legalizing partial-birth abortion, and propping up overreaching bureaucratic agencies like the EPA and the IRS.”

Ohio Governor John Kasich told CBS’s John Dickerson that if elected president, he would consider re-nominating Judge Merrick Garland, as reported by Breitbart News.

Lana Shadwick is a writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served as an associate judge and prosecutor in Texas. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2


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