President Obama nominated Arizona Supreme Court Justice Andrew D. Hurwitz to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. This follows Obama’s nomination last week of Los Angeles attorney Paul J. Watford to the same court. He also nominated Kristine Gerhard Baker to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas.
The president withdrew federal magistrate Judge Charles Day’s nomination to the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. Following the announcement, a spokeswoman for Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) told The Blog of Legal Times that several Senate Judiciary Committee members had “insurmountable concerns” about matters raised during Day’s background check. Day was nominated in July 2010, but the Senate Judiciary Committee never scheduled a hearing for him.
The Senate unanimously confirmed three judges this week. On Monday, Loyola University New Orleans law professor Stephen Higginson was confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, 88-0, in spite of the “tough time” legal academics have had winning confirmation to high-profile jobs, The National Law Journal reports. On Thursday, the Senate confirmed two district court nominees: Scott Skavdahl to the District of Wyoming, 96-0, and Richard Andrews to the District of Delaware by unanimous consent. “I wish that we were able to vote today on the other 20 judicial nominees that have been ready and waiting for final Senate action,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said in a statement.
On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held nominations hearings for a circuit court judge and two district court judges. The next day, they unanimously voted out by voice vote one circuit court judge and three district court judges. They also voted out the nomination of Miranda Du for U.S. District Judge for the District of Nevada along party lines. The committee held over the nomination of one judge to a district court.
Sen. Grassley alerted the Senate that he “intend[s] to object to any unanimous consent agreement for the consideration of S. 1014, the Emergency Judicial Relief Act of 2011,” a bill that would create new district judgeships in districts with significant backlog. The bill was voted out by committee with bipartisan support. Only Grassley, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) opposed the measure in committee.