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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Five Judicial Nominees Reported Out of Committee

This morning the Senate Judiciary Committee reported five judicial nominees to the Senate floor:
  • William Kayatta, Jr., nominated to the First Circuit Court of Appeals
  • John Fowlkes, Jr., nominated to the Western District of Tennessee
  • Kevin McNulty, nominated to the District of New Jersey
  • Michael Shipp, nominated to the District of New Jersey
  • Stephanie Rose, nominated to the Southern District of Iowa

The nominees were reported on a voice vote; Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-IA) stated that Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who did not attend the meeting, wished to go on record with a vote of “no” against the nomination of Kayatta. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) voted “no” on all five nominees, continuing to carry out his threat to oppose every single one of the president’s nominees regardless of merit or circumstance in retaliation for the recess appointments of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and several appointments to serve on the National Labor Relations Board.

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) voted “present” on McNulty, citing a personal conflict of interest (McNulty is the senator’s brother-in-law).

All of the Democratic committee members were present for the vote; the only Republican members who attended this regularly scheduled weekly meeting were Senators Grassley and Lee.

Three additional District Court nominees were on the agenda and could have been reported out to the Senate floor, but Senator Grassley stated that the Republican members were going to take advantage of a committee rule allowing nominees to be automatically held over without cause until the next meeting. This has been a persistent delaying tactic of the Republican members, who have invoked the automatic hold-over rule for all but one of the president’s judicial nominees during this Congress in order to drag out the confirmation process as long as possible. As a result, the committee has to wait until its next meeting to consider the nominations of Michael Shea to the District of Connecticut, Gonzalo Curiel to the Southern District of California (an emergency vacancy), and Robert Shelby to the District of Utah.

Today’s action leaves 11 nominees pending in committee and increases the number of nominees awaiting Senate confirmation votes to 22.  Under the March 14 deal on confirmations reached by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), six of these should receive their votes by May 7, leaving at least 16 seats vacant because of partisan delay if the knee-jerk obstruction of judicial nominees continues.

For the most comprehensive, up-to-date information on judicial nominations, visit the Judicial Selection Project website.

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