06.14.11

Senate Confirms Two Judicial Nominees

First Confirmations Of Judicial Nominees Since May 17

WASHINGTON (Tuesday, June 14, 2011) – The Senate Tuesday unanimously confirmed two pending nominations to fill vacancies on the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.  Judge Claire Cecchi’s nomination was reported by the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 31, and Judge Esther Salas’ nomination was reported by the Committee on April 7.  Both nominations received unanimous support from the members of the Committee.

 

Seventeen judicial nominations remain pending on the Senate’s Executive Calendar, including one nomination reported by the Judiciary Committee in February with bipartisan support.  Prior to Tuesday’s votes, the Senate had not voted on a pending judicial nomination since May 17, nearly one month ago.

 

“With judicial vacancies continuing at crisis levels, affecting the ability of courts to provide justice to Americans around the country, I have been urging the Senate to vote on the judicial nominations reported favorably by the Judiciary Committee and pending on the Senate’s Executive Calendar,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).

“We should have regular votes on President Obama’s highly qualified nominees, instead of more delays.  With vacancies still totaling more than 90 on Federal courts throughout the country, and with nearly two dozen future vacancies on the horizon, there is no time to delay consideration of these nominations.”

The Judiciary Committee is expected to hold a Committee vote on four additional judicial nominees as early as Thursday.  For more information on pending judicial nominations, visit the Senate Judiciary Committee’s website.

 

The full text of Leahy’s statement regarding the confirmation votes Tuesday follows.

 

# # # # #

 

Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)
Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee
On Judicial Nominations
June 14, 2011

 

The Senate last confirmed a judicial nominee on May 17, almost one month ago. This is despite the fact that almost a score of qualified nominees have been awaiting final consideration since that date.  Last month, the Senate recessed for Memorial Day with 19 judicial nominees pending on the Senate’s Executive Calendar.  Of those, 16 are by anyone’s definition consensus nominees.  All 16 were unanimously approved by every Republican and every Democratic Senator on the Judiciary Committee after thorough review.  They are all supported by their home state Senators, Republicans and Democrats.  These are the kind of nominees who in past years would be confirmed within days of being reported to the Senate and without the extended delays that now burden every nomination.

With judicial vacancies continuing at crisis levels, affecting the ability of courts to provide justice to Americans around the country, I have been urging the Senate to vote on the judicial nominations reported favorably by the Judiciary Committee and pending on the Senate’s Executive Calendar.  My efforts have not yielded much success or sense of urgency.  Nor have the statements by the Chief Justice of the United States, the Attorney General of the United States, the White House counsel, the Federal Bar Association and a number of Federal judges across the country.   

Those who delay or prevent the filling of these vacancies must understand that they are delaying and preventing the administration of justice.  We can pass all the bills we want to protect American taxpayers from fraud and other crimes, but you cannot lock up criminals or recover ill-gotten gains if you do not have judges.  The mounting backlogs of civil and criminal cases are growing larger. 

We should have regular votes on President Obama’s highly qualified nominees, instead of more delays.  With vacancies still totaling more than 90 on Federal courts throughout the country, and with nearly two dozen future vacancies on the horizon, there is no time to delay consideration of these nominations.  Had we taken positive action on the consensus nominees, vacancies would have been reduced to below 80 for the first time since the beginning of President Obama’s administration.   

All of the nominations reported by the Judiciary Committee and pending on the Senate’s Executive Calendar have been through the Committee’s fair and thorough process.  We review extensive background material on each nominee.  All Senators on the Committee, Democratic and Republican, have the opportunity to ask the nominees questions at a live hearing.  Senators also have the opportunity to ask questions in writing following the hearing and to meet with the nominees.  All of these nominees which the Committee reported to the Senate have a strong commitment to the rule of law and a demonstrated faithfulness to the Constitution.  All have the support of their home state Senators, both Republican and Democratic.  They should not be delayed for weeks and months needlessly after being so thoroughly and fairly considered by the Judiciary Committee.

Today, the Senate is being allowed to vote on two more of President Obama’s outstanding judicial nominees, Esther Salas and Claire Cecchi—both currently Federal magistrate judges for the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, the court to which they are nominated.  Judge Salas previously served as a Federal Public Defender and in private practice.  She is a graduate of Rutgers University and Rutgers University School of Law.  Judge Cecchi previously worked in private practice and for the City of New York.  She graduated from Barnard College of Columbia University and Fordham University School of Law.  Judge Salas and Judge Cecchi both have the strong support of their home state Senators, Senator Lautenberg and Senator Menendez. 

After today’s votes on the two New Jersey nominees, there will remain more than a dozen other judicial nominations that were reported unanimously and that are being stalled for no good reason and without justification.  They include several nominees to fill judicial emergency vacancies, including Paul Engelmayer and William Kuntz of New York, Richard Brooke Jackson of Colorado, Kathleen Williams of Florida, and Nelva Gonzales Ramos of Texas, as well as Henry Floyd of South Carolina to the Fourth Circuit.  

Other nominations reported unanimously and without any opposition are Paul Oetken of New York, Romana Manglona of the Mariana Islands, Sara Lynn Darrow of Illinois, John Andrew Ross of Missouri, Timothy M. Cain of South Carolina, Nanette Jolivette Brown of Louisiana and Nancy Torreson of Maine.  Some have been needlessly stalled before the Senate for months.  Those with home state Republican Senators in support include Bernice Donald of Tennessee to the Sixth Circuit, Henry Floyd of South Carolina to the Fourth Circuit,  Sara Lynn Darrow of Illinois, Kathleen Williams of Florida, Nelva Gonzales Ramos of Texas, John Andrew Ross of Missouri, Timothy Cain of South Carolina, Nannette Jolivette Brown of Louisiana, and Nancy Torresen of Maine.  In spite of all this, we continue to be unable to secure consent from the Republican leadership for the Senate to consider and vote on these nominations.  They will all be confirmed if allowed to be considered. 

We could have made significant progress helping Americans seeking justice in our Federal courts before the Memorial Day recess.  I hope that Senators across the aisle can join together with us and work with the President to provide needed judicial resources before our 4th of July recess.

I congratulate both of the outstanding nominees we will confirm today, and their families on what I expect will be their unanimous confirmations today.

# # # # #

Press Contact

David Carle: 202-224-3693