The Senate Judiciary Committee held a confirmation hearing for Paul Watford to the United States Circuit Court for the Ninth Circuit. Senator Whitehouse (D-RI) chaired the hearing, opening the proceedings by noting the numerous judicial vacancies in the Ninth Circuit and quoting a recent letter from the circuit’s Chief Judge Alex Kozinski who said, “[W]e fear that the public will suffer unless our vacancies are filled very promptly.” Also attending the hearing were Senator Feinstein (D-CA), who introduced the nominee, and Senator Grassley (R-IA), the ranking Republican member. Senator Whitehouse remarked at its conclusion that the hearing was notably uneventful.
Watford was nominated to the seat on October 17, 2011. If confirmed, he will be the fourth African American to serve on the Ninth Circuit, and just one of two active African American judges on the 29-member court. There are five vacancies on the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit—four current vacancies, all of them deemed judicial emergencies by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts—and one future vacancy. For the most accurate, up-to-date information on the judicial selection process, visit the Alliance for Justice’s Judicial Selection page.