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Litigation: The Gavel
Obama Resubmits 42 Judicial Picks
By Peter Hardin
President Obama, facing a slimmer Democratic majority in the Senate, has resubmitted 42 judicial nominations — including those of four controversial appointees whom Republicans opposed.
At the same time the Senate Democratic and Republican leaders announced the creation of a commission to address stalled executive nominations, according to a Politico article.
Obama’s resubmitted nominations included those of University of California at Berkeley law professor Goodwin Liu for the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; and three U.S. District Court nominees, Edward M. Chen in California, former Wisconsin Justice Louis Butler Jr.; and high-profile plaintiffs? lawyer John McConnell Jr. in Rhode Island.
Under a deal that permitted the Senate to go ahead and vote on, and ultimately confirm, 19 judges in its lame duck session, it was agreed these controversial nominees would not come up for votes. The Senate failed to vote in the lame duck period on 19 judges who were before it. The nominations also expired for another 24 would-be federal judges who had not gotten votes yet in the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Only U.S. District Judge Robert Chatigny of Connecticut, who Obama had nominated for the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, was not renominated. He faced questioning by Republicans during hearings about the way he handled sex-offender cases, and a decision to postpone temporarily a serial killer’s execution. He asked not to be renominated, an unnamed official said.
Leading the bipartisan commission will be Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), along with Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.).
?In the vast majority of instances, the individuals nominated by the President are not controversial, but many have faced delays before assuming their positions,? Reid said in a statement. ?And, the delays make it harder to find qualified people ? many great nominees simply cannot wait around for months as the stress and uncertainty affects their families and careers.?
In a year-end report, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. decried the partisan squabbling that has delayed scores of judicial nominations. He lamented ?the persistent problem of judicial vacancies,? called it a systemic problem and said it cries out with ?urgent need? for resolution (see Gavel Grab).
The 112th Senate has a majority behind Democratic Leader Sen. Harry Reid. of 51 Democrats plus two independents, and 47 Republicans, according to a USA Today report on the new Senate taking office this week.
There were articles about the resubmitted nominations and some of the more controversial picks in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Oakland Tribune, the San Jose Mercury News, and the Providence Journal.
In the Christian Science Monitor, law professor Carl Tobias of the University of Richmond wrote a commentary entitled, “Where are all the federal judges? Why 90 empty seats threaten American justice.”
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