Senate Makes Progress To Fill Judicial Vacancies

WASHINGTON (Thursday, May 8, 2014) – The Senate confirmed three district court nominees on Thursday, the same day the Judiciary Committee reported four nominees to fill emergency vacancies to the floor. Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) praised the Senate’s progress on judicial nominations at a time when Republicans routinely demand procedural votes on even the most noncontroversial nominees.

“From day one of this President’s time in office, Senate Republicans have obstructed and slowed the confirmation process,” Leahy said. “It is a shame we have to go to such lengths to confirm highly qualified nominees, but we are making progress. I thank the majority leader for making judicial nominations a priority and I hope that we are able to confirm more nominees in the coming weeks.”

Leahy supported efforts last year to overcome Republican abuse of procedural rules. Following a change to the Senate rules, which took away a major hurdle in the confirmation process, the Senate has confirmed 32 judicial nominees so far this year. At the same point last year, the Senate confirmed just 14 of President Obama’s judicial nominees. The same obstruction that forced a change in Senate rules has also kept the judicial vacancy rate high under President Obama. Today, there are 74 judicial vacancies throughout the country. At the same point under President Bush in May 2006, there were 50 judicial vacancies.

The judicial nominees confirmed Thursday include Indira Talwani to fill a vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts; James Peterson to fill an emergency vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin; and Nancy Rosenstengel to fill an emergency vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. The Senate also overcame a filibuster on the nomination of Judge Robin Rosenbaum to fill an emergency vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. Rosenbaum’s nomination has been pending since last year, and she has the support of both Florida Senators.

The Judiciary Committee also took steps Thursday to fill emergency vacancies in Florida by unanimously voting to advance four district court nominees: Beth Bloom, Darrin Gayles, Paul Byron, and Carlos Mendoza. Like Rosenbaum, all four Florida district nominees have the support of their home state Senators. Results from Thursday’s executive business meeting can be viewed online.

The Judiciary Committee will meet next Tuesday for a nominations hearing featuring seven circuit and district court nominees.


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