by Rebekah DeHaven
This was a busy week for nominations. Following Sen. Reid’s (D-Nev.) filing of cloture last week, on Wednesday, the Senate considered the nominations of Debo Adegbile to serve as the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights and four judicial nominees.
Senators voted 48-51 against the motion to reconsider cloture on Adegbile, successfully blocking a cloture vote his nomination. For procedural reasons, Sen. Reid switched his vote to preserve the opportunity to for him to bring the nomination up for consideration in the future, making the final vote 47-52. President Obama called the vote a “travesty.”
The Senate then considered the following judicial nominations. Cloture was invoked on each nominee prior to confirmation.
- Pedro A. Delgado Hernandez to the District of Puerto Rico;
- Cloture: 57-41-1
- Confirmation: 98-0
- Pamela L. Reeves to the Eastern District of Tennessee;
- Cloture: 62-37
- Confirmation: 99-0
- Timothy L. Brooks to the Western District of Arkansas; and
- Cloture: 59-41
- Confirmation: 100-0
- Vince Girdhari Chhabria to the Northern District of California.
- Cloture: 57-43
- Confirmation: 58-41
Of note, Vince Chhabria is a member of the ACS network and filled a judicial emergency.
Although these confirmations were successful, they demonstrate continued obstructionism and delay tactics. Before the Senate rules change, three of the four cloture votes would have resulted in successful filibusters because they did not reach 60 votes. Yet, within minutes of each cloture vote, Senators voted overwhelmingly to confirm these same nominees whose cloture they had just opposed. Forcing cloture votes on nominees that Senators will ultimately support is a waste of precious time, and slows the pace at which nominees waiting for votes can be considered.
On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee reported three judicial nominees out of Committee onto the Senate floor. They were:
- Robin Rosenbaum to the Eleventh Circuit (Georgia), voice vote;
- Bruce Hendricks to the District of South Carolina, 16-2; and
- Mark Mastroianni to the District of Massachusetts, voice vote.
Later on Thursday, Sen. Reid filed cloture on five judicial nominees, the first of which will be voted on at 5:30 p.m. on Monday. The nominees were:
- Carolyn B. McHugh to the Tenth Circuit (Utah);
- Matthew Frederick Leitman to the Eastern District of Michigan;
- Judith Ellen Levy to the Eastern District of Michigan;
- Laurie J. Michelson to the Eastern District of Michigan; and
- Linda Vivienne Parker to the Eastern District of Michigan.
There are now a total of 89 current vacancies and 23 future vacancies (including three vacancies that will become current if a sitting district court judge is elevated to a circuit court). There are 56 pending nominees, four of whom are nominated to future vacancies. There are 34 judicial emergencies. Thirty-three nominees remain pending on the Senate floor.
For more information on the crisis over judicial nominations, see the latest from “In the News” and “Recommended Readings” from JudicialNominations.org, a project of ACS.