Despite all the fury from Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Helene White sailed through her confirmation vote yesterday on the Senate floor, 63-32. Although debate on her nomination was expected to last as long as four hours, only five senators spoke and the vote was called after only an hour of discussion. Most GOP members of the Judiciary Committee continued to oppose her nomination, with only Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who voted against her in committee, supporting her confirmation.
Sen. Hatch, who chaired the Judiciary Committee in 1997 when Judge White was initially nominated to the seat, refused to give her a hearing for almost four years – she still holds the record for the longest pending circuit court nomination in Senate history. Despite his history of opposition to Judge White, Sen. Hatch voted twice this month in favor of her appointment to this long-vacant seat – breaking ranks with the likes of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee Arlen Specter (R-PA). Apparently he realized that calling for quick confirmations of the president’s nominees while stymieing the confirmation of Judge White might prove a tad hypocritical.
The Senate also voted yesterday to confirm Raymond Kethledge to the final vacancy on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and Stephen Murphy to the US District Court for Michigan’s Eastern District.