Today the Senate Judiciary Committee voted five judicial nominees out of committee in a unanimous, en banc vote, moving them forward to the full Senate for confirmation. The nominees are Evan Wallach, nominated to be a United States Circuit Judge for the Federal Circuit, and four United States District Judge nominees: Dana Christensen to the District of Montana, Cathy Bencivengo to the Southern District of California, Gina Marie Groh to the Northern District of West Virginia, and Margo Brodie to the Eastern District of New York. They now join 21 other pending nominees awaiting confirmation by the Senate.
Consideration of all five had been “held over” by Republicans at the last meeting of the Committee. Holding over nominees, even when there is no opposition to their appointment, has been a consistent tactic by Republican senators seeking to slow down the judicial confirmation process. This tactic was continued at the Committee today, with Republican ranking member Sen. Grassley (R-IA) automatically holding over the nominations of Adalberto José Jordán to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals and District Judge nominees John M. Gerrard, Mary Elizabeth Phillips, Thomas Owen Rice, and David Nuffer to the District of Nebraska, the Western District of Missouri, the Eastern District of Washington, and the District of Utah, respectively.
Both Jordán and Nuffer have been appointed to fill vacancies designated as “judicial emergencies” by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts. Also automatically held over was consideration of S.1014, Emergency Judicial Relief Act, a bipartisan bill that would establish ten new judgeships in parts of the country where courts are overloaded because the bench is woefully understaffed.
Rather than playing delaying games in an attempt to keep President Obama’s nominees off the bench, Republicans in the Senate should be moving with all speed to ensure that these vacancies are filled so that people seeking justice in the courts of our nation can be heard.
For the most up-to-date and comprehensive information on judicial nominations, see the Alliance for Justice’s Judicial Selection Project webpage.