Yesterday the Senate confirmed Judge Gina Marie Groh to a seat on the United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 95 to 2 and Michael Fitzgerald to a seat on the United States District Court for the Central District of California by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 91-6.
Groh, who since 2006 has been serving as a judge on the 23rd Judicial Circuit Court of West Virginia, was nominated to the District Court on May 19, 2011. On October 6, 2011, the Senate Judiciary Committee reported her nomination to the full Senate on a unanimous voice vote. Groh waited 162 days following her committee vote for the full Senate to consider her nomination; 302 days have passed since she was nominated to fill the seat.
Fitzgerald, a partner at Corbin, Fitzgerald & Athey LLP in Los Angeles, was nominated on July 20, 2011. He is the third openly gay Obama judicial appointee to be confirmed to serve on the federal bench. Fitzgerald was reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee by a unanimous voice vote on November 3, 2011, but was still forced to wait 134 more days for the Senate to confirm him to fill his emergency vacancy seat; his wait time from nomination to confirmation was 240 days.
Yesterday's votes were the first two in a Senate deal struck to hold confirmation votes on 14 judicial nominees by May 7. With 100 current and future judicial vacancies on the federal bench, it is vital that the Senate continue to take action to confirm judges and ensure Americans access to a fully staffed judiciary when they turn to the courts seeking justice.
For the most up-to-date information on judicial vacancies and nominations, see the Alliance for Justice Judicial Selection Project webpage.