10.01.09

Senate Judiciary Committee Reports Judicial Nominations, U.S. Attorney and U.S. Marshal

WASHINGTON (Thursday, October 1, 2009) – The Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday approved six nominations, including four judicial nominations.  The nominations will next be considered by the full Senate.

The nominations of Joseph Greenaway to the Third Circuit, Robert Lange to the District of South Dakota, Irene Cornelia Berger to the Southern District of West Virginia, and Charlene Edwards Honeywell to the Middle District of Florida were first considered at a hearing on September 9.  The Committee also approved the nominations of David Lyle Cargill, Jr. to be U.S. Marshal for the District of New Hampshire, and Timothy Heaphy to be U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia.

“Each of these outstanding nominees for lifetime appointments to the Federal bench was rated unanimously well qualified by the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, the Committee’s highest rating,” said Leahy.  “Each of these nominations should receive prompt consideration not only in the Committee but in the full Senate. I hope that these nominations are not stalled for months and months, as other nominations have been.”

On Tuesday, the Senate unanimously confirmed Jeffrey Viken to be a District Court judge for South Dakota.  Viken is just the first District Court nominee to be confirmed this year, and only the second lower court nominee to be confirmed this year.  On September 17, the Senate confirmed Judge Gerard Lynch to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals by a final vote of 94-3.  Sixteen nominations approved by the Judiciary Committee are now pending on the Senate’s executive calendar.  Seven nominations, including two judicial nominees, have been pending since before the Senate’s August recess.

Information on executive and judicial nominations pending in the Judiciary Committee is available online.

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Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.),
Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee,
On Judicial And Executive Nominations
October 1, 2009

The Committee should be able to report the four judicial nominations on our agenda, which were held last week at the request of the Republicans, without further delay.  Each of these outstanding nominees for lifetime appointments to the Federal bench – Joseph A. Greenaway for the Third Circuit, Roberto A. Lange for the District of South Dakota, Irene Cornelia Berger for the Southern District of West Virginia, and Charlene Edwards Honeywell for the Middle District of Florida – was rated unanimously well qualified by the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, the Committee’s highest rating.  Each of these nominations should receive prompt consideration not only in the Committee but in the full Senate.

At the conclusion of the hearing to consider these nominations, Senator Sessions, the Committee’s Ranking Member, said, “It's a great honor that you've been given to be nominated and I expect things should go forward in a timely manner. I don't believe that any of you need to be held up based on what I know at this time. So, we'd like to see you get your vote as soon as reasonably possible.” I was surprised, then, when the Committee’s vote on these nominations was delayed last week.

I hope that these nominations are not stalled for months and months like the nominations of Judge Hamilton and Judge Davis, which have been pending on the Executive Calendar for nearly four months.  We have confirmed only one circuit nomination and one district court nomination this year.  By this time in President Bush’s first term, six nominations were confirmed.

The Senate must restore its tradition of regularly considering qualified, noncontroversial nominees to fill vacancies on the Federal bench without needless and harmful delays.   This is a tradition followed with Republican Presidents and Democratic Presidents.  We should treat President Obama’s nominees the same way we treated the nominees of President Bush.

Republican delays and inaction prevent us from making progress in addressing the alarming spike in judicial vacancies.  Current and future vacancies on the Federal bench now total 120.  We should not have a vacancy crisis in this country because of partisan politics.  I hope that the other side of the aisle will work with the Democrats to ensure that justice is not delayed, or denied, to any American because of over burdened courts.  

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Press Contact

David Carle: 202-224-3693