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Thursday, February 1, 2007

110th Confirms First Federal Judges

This week the 110th Senate unanimously confirmed five nominees to seats on the federal district courts. New Senate Judiciary Chair Patrick Leahy issued a statement in which he pointed out how quickly the new Senate was moving on judicial nominations. He also commended President Bush for not resubmitting the nominations of several controversial nominees, while urging the president to renominate three other district court nominees who have been held up by Senator Sam Brownback’s (R-KS) ridiculous unease about Janet Neff:
I do not know why the President has not chosen to renominate Judge Neff or the other two Western District nominees. But the approach to nominations we saw in the last Congress, of using nominations to score political points rather than filling vacancies and administering justice, has led to a dire situation in the Western District of Michigan. Judge Robert Holmes Bell, Chief Judge of the Western District, wrote to me and to others about the situation in that district, where several judges on senior status—one over 90 years old—continue to carry heavy caseloads to ensure that justice is administered in that district. Judge Bell is the only active judge. If not for Republican objections, these nominations would be filled by now.
Senator Leahy went on to urge the president to promptly fill these and other vacancies with “consensus” nominees. In the past the president has claimed the Democrats' reluctance to confirm his far-right nominees was causing a vacancy crisis. Not that there was ever anything to that accusation, but now it's beyond a doubt that members of the president's own party are the ones jeopardizing the swift administration of justice in Michigan.

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