07.16.12

Leahy Presses Republicans To Join Democrats In Approving Consensus Judicial Nominees

WASHINGTON – While the Senate will vote Monday on the nomination of Kevin McNulty, a federal district court nominee pending on the floor since April, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick (D-Vt.) noted that 17 more judicial nominees still await confirmation votes.

One of those nominees pending on the calendar, Michael A. Shipp, is awaiting confirmation to the same New Jersey district court to which McNulty was named. While McNulty was finally considered by the Senate Monday, Shipp’s nomination remains pending on the calendar despite broad bipartisan support.

“I am sure the people of New Jersey and the New Jersey Senators appreciate Senate Republicans finally allowing a vote on this nomination even after three months of needless delay,” said Leahy on the floor. “I suspect that they would  be more appreciative if the minority were also allowing a vote on the nomination of Michael Shipp for another vacancy on the same Federal court in New Jersey and who was also voted out of the Judiciary Committee virtually unanimously three months ago.”

Leahy noted that Judge Patty Shwartz’s nomination to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over New Jersey’s federal courts, has been lagging on the Senate calendar since March. Three other circuit court nominees, including two who enjoy the support of their Republican home state Senators, are awaiting confirmation.

The Judiciary Committee will meet Thursday to consider, among other things, a handful of judicial nominees. While the Committee continues to work through the Obama administration’s judicial picks, Leahy called on Republican senators to help the entire Senate do the same.

“The minority’s stalling votes on judicial nominees with significant bipartisan support is all to the detriment of the American people,” said Leahy. “What the American people and the overburdened Federal courts need are qualified judges to administer justice in our Federal courts, not the perpetuation of extended, numerous vacancies.” 

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Nominations Pending On The Senate Calendar

Patty Shwartz (3rd Circuit)                                                 Reported on March 8, 2012

Richard Gary Taranto (Federal Circuit)                            Reported on March 29, 2012

Gershwin A. Drain* (ED MI)                                              Reported on March 29, 2012

William J. Kayatta, Jr. (1st Circuit)                                    Reported on April 19, 2012

Kevin McNulty (D NJ)                                                         Reported on April 19, 2012

Michael A. Shipp (D NJ)                                                      Reported on April 19, 2012

Stephanie Marie Rose (SD IA)                                             Reported on April 19, 2012

Gonzalo P. Curiel* (SD CA)                                                Reported on April 26, 2012

Robert J. Shelby* (D UT)                                                    Reported on April 26, 2012

Michael P. Shea (D CT)                                                        Reported on April 26, 2012

Robert E. Bacharach (10th Circuit)                                    Reported on June 7, 2012

Paul William Grimm (D MD)                                              Reported on June 7, 2012

Mark E. Walker (ND FL)                                                    Reported on June 7, 2012

John E. Dowdell (ND OK)                                                   Reported on June 7, 2012

Brian J. Davis* (MD FL)                                                     Reported on June 21, 2012

Terrence G. Berg* (ED MI)                                                 Reported on July 12, 2012

Jesus G. Bernal* (CD CA)                                                   Reported on July 12, 2012

Lorna G. Schofield (SD NY)                                                Reported on July 12, 2012

*Indicates this nominee will fill a Judicial Emergency

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Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.),
Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee,
On The Nomination Of Kevin McNulty To The U.S. District Court For
The District Of New Jersey
July 16, 2012

Today we will vote on only one of the 18 judicial nominations voted on by the Judiciary Committee but that are being stalled for no good reason.  I am sure the people of New Jersey and the New Jersey Senators appreciate Senate Republicans finally allowing a vote on this nomination even after three months of needless delay.  I suspect that they would  be more appreciative if the minority were also allowing a vote on the nomination of Michael Shipp for another vacancy on the same Federal court in New Jersey and who was also voted out of the Judiciary Committee virtually unanimously three months ago.  I am sure they would be even more appreciative than that if Senate Republicans would allow a vote on the nomination of Judge Patty Shwartz to fill the vacancy on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals who was voted out of the Judiciary Committee more than four months ago, and who has the support of New Jersey’s Republican Governor, Chris Christie.

The minority’s stalling votes on judicial nominees with significant bipartisan support is all to the detriment of the American people.  This has been a tactic that they have employed for the last three and one half years, despite repeated appeals urging them to work with us to help solve the judicial vacancy crisis.  We have seen everyone from Chief Justice John Roberts, himself appointed by a Republican president, to the nonpartisan American Bar Association urging the Senate to vote on qualified judicial nominees that are available to administer justice for the American public.  Sadly, Republicans insist on being the party of “no”.

What the American people and the overburdened Federal courts need are qualified judges to administer justice in our Federal courts, not the perpetuation of extended, numerous vacancies.  Today vacancies on the Federal courts are more than two and one half times as many as they were on this date during the first term of President Bush. 

Today, there are still 78 vacancies.  Their tactics have actually led to an increase in judicial vacancies during President Obama’s first term – a development that is a sad first.

But the real point is that their selective use of numbers is beside the point and does nothing to help the American people. 

Had Republicans not stalled 19 nominations at the end of last year and dragged those confirmations out into May of this year, we, the American people, and the Federal courts would be much better off.  As it is, however, the fact remains that there are 18 qualified judicial nominations that the Senate could be voting on without further delay.

These are nominations that date back to October of last year.  Most were nominated before March.  In fact the circuit court nominees who Republicans are refusing to consider date back to October and November of last year and January of this year.  William Kayatta was voted on by the Committee and placed before the Senate by mid-April and could have been confirmed then.  Richard Taranto and Judge Shwartz have been stalled before the Senate even longer, since March.  As I explained in my last statement, Senate Republicans have shut down confirmations of circuit court judges not just in June or July but, in effect, for the entire year.  The Senate has yet to vote on a single circuit court nominee nominated by President Obama this year. 

The American people who are waiting for justice do not care about excuses.  They do not care about some false sense of settling political scores.  They want justice, just as they want action on measures the President has suggested to help the economy and create jobs rather than political calculations about what will help Republican candidates in the elections in November. 

What they are doing now is a first.  As I have noted, in the past five presidential election years, Senate Democrats have never denied an up-or-down vote to any circuit court nominee of a Republican President who received bipartisan support in the Judiciary Committee. 

I, again, urge Senate Republicans to reconsider their ill-conceived partisan strategy and work with us to meet the needs of the American people.  We can and we should be doing more to help the American people.

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