Leahy Notices Hearing For Two Circuit Nominees

Nominations Hearing Will Feature Three Michigan Nominees

WASHINGTON (Wednesday, April 30, 2008) – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) today noticed a hearing for three judicial nominees, including two circuit court nominees to fill the final vacancies on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.  The hearing will be held Wednesday, May 7.

The Committee will consider the nominations of Judge Helene White and Raymond Kethledge to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the nomination of Steven Murphy for a seat in the Eastern District of Michigan.  Judge White was previously nominated for a Michigan seat on the Sixth Circuit three times during the Clinton administration, but the Republican-led Judiciary Committee failed to hold a hearing on her nomination.

After weeks of negotiations, Leahy announced April 15 that the White House and Michigan Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow had resolved the longstanding gridlock in the Sixth Circuit, an impasse dating back more than a decade.  The Republican-led Senate returned three Sixth Circuit nominations to President Clinton without action at the end of the Clinton administration, leaving four vacancies on that appellate court.  Just two vacancies remain on the Sixth Circuit today, and Committee and Senate action on the White and Kethledge nominations could reduce vacancies on the appellate bench in that circuit to zero.  In the agreement, the White House withdrew Murphy’s nomination for a seat on the appellate bench, renominating him for a district court judgeship, and sent the White nomination to the Senate for the second vacancy on the Appeals Court.

“I hope those who imply that we are failing to consider President Bush’s judicial nominations will attend the Committee’s seventh nominations hearing of the year,” said Leahy.  “Some may be interested in angling for a political fight over judicial nominations, but I remain interested in making progress where we can rather than embroiling the Committee, and the Senate, in election year politics.  If those political fights don’t hold us back, the Senate can reduce vacancies on the Sixth Circuit to zero, a far cry from where it was left by a Senate Republican majority at the end of the Clinton administration.”

The Judiciary Committee last week voted to report to the Senate three more nominees for lifetime appointments to the Federal bench, and on Thursday the Committee will hold a hearing for Fourth Circuit nominee Justice G. Steven Agee and district court nominees William T. Lawrence of Indiana and G. Murray Snow of Arizona. 


Democrats have worked to reduce the number of vacancies on the Federal bench to less than half the number at the start of the Bush administration.  Circuit court vacancies increased from 12 to 26 during the Clinton administration when Republican Senators stalled consideration of a Democratic President’s nominations and swelled to 32 at the start of the Bush administration.  Today, there arejust 12 circuit vacancies throughout the entire nation. 


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For background on Senate consideration of judicial nominations, click here.


April 30, 2008



The Senate Committee on the Judiciary has scheduled a hearing on “Judicial Nominations” for Wednesday, May 7, 2008 at 10:00 a.m. in Room 226 of the Senate Dirksen Office Building.


By order of the Chairman


Witness List


Hearing before the

Senate Judiciary Committee




“Judicial Nominations”


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Dirksen Senate Office Building Room 226

10:00 a.m.


Helene N. White, of Michigan, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Sixth Circuit


Raymond M. Kethledge, of Michigan, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Sixth Circuit


Stephen Joseph Murphy III, of Michigan, to be United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Michigan 


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Press Contact

David Carle: 202-224-3693

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