Three Judicial Confirmations Generate Debate on Senate’s Pace

Posted June 7, 2010 at 5:51pm

Senate Democrats and Republicans used Monday night’s floor votes on three judicial nominees to debate whether the chamber is clearing pending names at a fair pace, an issue that has drawn partisan attacks that will likely continue as consideration of a Supreme Court nominee heats up.

“It has been nearly a month since the Senate confirmed a judicial nominee,” said Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), adding that Republicans have mounted “unprecedented” obstruction to the list of pending names on the executive calendar.

“None of the more than two dozen available for consideration before the Memorial Day recess were considered. This Republican obstruction is unprecedented,” Leahy said. “This is not how the Senate should act, nor how the Senate has conducted its business in the past. This is new, and it is wrong.”

Leahy said the Senate “is well behind the pace” set for clearing President George W. Bush’s nominations. He noted that 57 of Bush’s picks were confirmed after he was in office 17 months, compared with 28 of President Barack Obama’s picks in that same period.

But Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), a long-serving member of the Judiciary panel, said in a statement that Obama’s picks are moving through the committee process faster and that, overall, Democratic names are clearing more quickly than during Bush’s eight years in office.

“Only in the bizarre world that is a Democratically controlled Washington can the judicial confirmation process moving so much faster bring accusations of obstruction,” Hatch said in a written statement.

The Senate voted Thursday to confirm three district court nominees: Audrey Fleissig to the eastern district of Missouri on a 90-0 vote, Lucy Haeran Koh to the northern district of California on a 90-0 vote, and Jane Magnus-Stinson to the southern district of Indiana on a unanimous voice vote.