Republicans Could Still Make Their Judicial Picks Before Democrats Take Control of The State House
Virginia Republicans canceled a special session of the General Assembly that was scheduled for next Tuesday, Nov. 18, to go over gun control proposals following the mass shooting at a Virginia Beach municipal building. But, they haven’t ruled out calling back lawmakers to fill lingering judicial vacancies before the General Assembly reconvenes and Democrats assume power in January.
The General Assembly is tasked with interviewing and voting to elect candidates to fill judicial vacancies.
There’s currently a vacancy on the Virginia Court of Appeals and a number of circuit and general district court judges around the state whose terms have expired. There is also an empty seat on the State Corporation Commission, which has authority over public utilities, such as Dominion Energy.
University of Richmond Law Professor Carl Tobias said these are powerful positions with long terms that the GOP may be interested in filling.
“There’s the question about whether this will be done by the lame duck, if you will, Republican majorities. Or whether they will defer to the will of the people as expressed in the election and allow the Democrats then to fill those,” Tobias said.
Jeff Ryer, the press secretary for the Virginia Senate Republican Caucus said GOP leaders haven’t decided whether to summon legislators back for a vote on judicial nominations.
“Not determination has been made on any of that,” Ryer said.
The November 18th special session was scheduled after Republican leaders in the House and Senate adjourned a special session on gun control in July. They referred all gun legislation to the bipartisan Virginia State Crime Commission for study and recommendation, voting to reconvene Nov. 18 — after the Nov. 5 election.
The crime commission released its 3-page report Tuesday as well, after canceling a meeting to go over the findings publicly. Those findings were inconclusive.