The Senate recently confirmed "roughly three dozen" of the Obama administration's nominees, but left dozens more languishing, The Washington Post reported. Regarding nominations to the federal bench, The Post noted that the Senate has confirmed "just 13 judges, including Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor." The newspaper continued, "Nineteen judicial nominations are pending in the Senate with four referred to lawmakers last week."
In a Dec. 23 press statement, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy blasted conservatives for slowing the nomination process. Leahy said:
I have been calling on the Republican leadership to end the delays and obstruction of judicial nominations and join with us to make progress in filling some of the many vacancies on Federal circuit and district courts. I have done so repeatedly for most of the year, and several times over this last month. Regrettably, as we head into the winter recess and the end of the first session of the 111th Congress, Republican obstruction is setting a new low for the Senate in our consideration of judicial nominations.
The Posted noted, however, that despite opposition on "some judicial picks, the Obama administration has nominated far fewer judges in its first year than did the administrations of George W. Bush and Bill Clinton."
The San Francisco Chronicle reported on the embattled nominations of Magistrate Judge Edward Chen (right) for a federal judgeship in California and Dawn Johnsen to head the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). The Chronicle stated that both nominations were sent back to the administration for reconsideration.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein told the Chronicle that she hoped the administration would renominate Chen, saying he has a "pristine record" as a magistrate judge.
Opposition to Johnsen, an Indiana University law school professor and former member of the ACS Board of Directors, has been especially protracted, and, in part, has targeted her critique of the OLC during the Bush administration. Attorney General Eric Holder, on numerous occasions, has expressed strong support for Johnsen's nomination.