As expected, the Senate confirmed two judicial nominees yesterday, bringing the total number confirmed in the new Congress to five, The Hill reports.
The confirmations are an early sign that an agreement between senators to move noncontroversial business forward without procedural blocks is having some effect. There remain, however, 101 vacant seats subject to Senate confirmation on the federal courts. And federal judges are now retiring at a rate of one per week, The Washington Post reported last week in a front-page story noting that federal judicial vacancies have reached a "crisis point."
"With 100 vacancies to fill, the Senate should be confirming judges every week as part of its regular business," NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund (LDF) President John Payton said in a statement after the vote. "We expect to see many judicial confirmations this session. Nothing is more important to the administration of our justice system."
The Senate confirmed Mississippi Supreme Court Justice James Graves by unanimous consent for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Graves will become the first African American from Mississippi to serve on the Fifth Circuit, a development that LDF Washington Office Director Leslie Proll called a "historic" for the diversity of the federal courts.
"Today's vote represents a sea change," Proll said after the vote. "James Graves is truly a consensus candidate; he is strongly supported by civil rights organizations and the two Republican Senators from Mississippi, Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker."
The Senate also voted 93-0 to confirm Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Edward Davila to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
To learn more about the judicial vacancy crisis and follow developments, visit JudicialNominations.org.