02.17.12

After More Than Five Months Of Delay, Senate Confirms NY District Court Nominee

Majority Of Judiciary Committee Republicans Flip Votes On Nomination

WASHINGTON (Friday, Feb. 17, 2012) – More than five months after his nomination won unanimous support in the Senate Judiciary Committee, Jesse Furman was confirmed Friday to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Before the vote, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said, “The extended delay in considering the Furman nomination has not only been damaging to the Federal District Court of New York, but also to the people it serves.”

The Judiciary Committee reported the nomination to the full Senate by a unanimous voice vote on September 15.  No Senator spoke on the Senate floor in opposition to the nomination; yet more than half of the Republicans who serve on the Judiciary Committee abandoned their Committee vote on the nomination and opposed its confirmation on the Senate floor.

There remain on the Senate calendar 20 judicial nominations, some reported as long ago as October, awaiting final Senate consideration.  A majority of the nominations won unanimous support from the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Leahy’s full statement on the vote on Jesse Furman’s confirmation follows.

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I commend the Majority Leader for pressing forward to obtain a vote on the nomination of Jesse Furman, finally bringing to an end the 5-month Republican filibuster of this nomination. It should not have taken five months and the filing of a cloture petition to secure a vote on this superbly qualified, consensus nominee.  When the Judiciary Committee voted on this nomination last September, it had the support of every Democrat and ever Republican on the Committee.  Yesterday, I spoke, again, of the dangers posed by this Republican filibuster of a consensus Federal district court nominee.  I am glad Senate Republicans have backed away from their misguided effort.  

The extended delay in considering the Furman nomination has not only been damaging to the Federal District Court of New York and the people it serves.  This has also led to some extreme groups on the far right making scurrilous attacks on the reputation of this good man.  I trust that no Senator will credit the mischaracterizations of Mr. Furman’s record.  His role in filing an amicus brief in a First Amendment case in the Supreme Court on behalf of the Anti-Defamation League when he was in private practice has been misquoted and mischaracterized to the point where you have to wonder if it is intentional.  Of course, no lawyer should be disqualified from being a judge for advocating on behalf of client.  Were the Senate to go down that road, we would disqualify many outstanding lawyers capable of being excellent judges.  Senate Republicans filibustered Judge Jack McConnell of Rhode Island because he represented parents and children exposed to health risks by lead in paint.  That error should not be repeated.

I am glad the Senate is finally voting on this nomination.  With 21 judicial nominations approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee awaiting a final vote, with one out of every 10 Federal judgeships vacant throughout the country, and with the Senate still more than 40 confirmations behind the pace we set with President Bush, the Senate cannot afford this continuing obstruction and delay of judicial confirmations.  This filibuster, like the filibuster of Judge Adalberto Jordan that we finally ended earlier this week and others, bring derision upon the Senate, are a colossal waste of the time, and harm our Federal courts and the American people seeking justice.    

I, again, urge Senate Republicans to abandon the damaging tactics that led to this unnecessary   5-month filibuster of the Furman nomination, the shameful 4-month and two day filibuster of the Jordan nomination, and to abandon their continued stalling of 20 additional judicial nominees ready for final consideration and confirmation.  I, again, urge Senate Republicans to join with us to restore the Senate’s longstanding practice of considering and confirming consensus nominees without extended delays.  The American people deserve no less.        

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