07.08.15

After Months of Delay, Senate Republicans Finally Allow For a Vote on First Circuit Court Nominee of the 114th Congress

With Confirmation Today, Farnandez Stoll Becomes First Woman Of Color To Serve On Federal Circuit

WASHINGTON (Tuesday, July 7, 2015) – The Senate on Tuesday unanimously approved the confirmation of a long-pending judicial nominee to fill a vacancy on the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, marking the first time the Republican majority has allowed a vote on a circuit court nominee in the 114th Congress.

The nominee, Kara Farnandez Stoll, is also the first woman of color to serve on the Federal Circuit. She has the strong support of the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA), and her nomination was overwhelmingly approved by the Judiciary Committee in April. Yet Republicans have blocked this and other nominees for months.

“The Republican majority’s treatment of Ms. Farnandez Stoll’s nomination is more pattern than aberration.  Six months into this new Republican-led Congress, the Senate has only confirmed a handful of judges – and it has been more than six weeks since a vote was scheduled by the majority leader for a single judicial nominee,” Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said in a floor statement Tuesday. “This glacial pace of confirmations is a dereliction of the Senate’s constitutional duty to provide advice and consent on judicial nominees.  Many are concerned that such treatment threatens the functioning of our independent judiciary.”

Stoll is just the fifth judicial nominee to be confirmed this year, the seventh year of the Obama administration. By the same point during the Bush administration, when Democrats controlled the Senate, 21 judges were confirmed – including 18 district and 3 circuit court judges. 

There are currently 11 other consensus judicial nominations pending on the Senate Executive Calendar.  No Senator has spoken out against any of the pending nominees, who all were reported by the Judiciary Committee on voice votes. 

Among those awaiting confirmation is Armando Bonilla, one of five pending nominees to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (CFC) who also has received the strong support of the HNBA.  Like Farnandez Stoll, Bonilla’s nomination is historic– when confirmed, he will be the first Hispanic judge to hold a seat on the CFC. 

The Judiciary Committee is also expected this week to report out another HNBA-endorsed nominee, Luis Felipe Restrepo, to fill a judicial emergency vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.  Judge Restrepo was unanimously confirmed two years ago by the Senate to serve as a district court judge in Pennsylvania.  Once confirmed to this higher judicial vacancy, Judge Restrepo will be the first Hispanic judge from Pennsylvania to ever serve on this court and only the second Hispanic judge to serve on the Third Circuit.

“Americans can be proud of President Obama’s efforts to increase diversity in the Federal judiciary and to ensure that it better reflects all Americans.  Americans also expect us to do our jobs in the Senate, and that includes ensuring their access to the Federal courts,” Leahy said.  “I urge the Senate leadership to act responsibly by scheduling votes for the uncontroversial judicial nominees still pending on the Executive Calendar.” 

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