Judicial Nominees

  • November 19, 2009

    By a vote of 59-39, the Senate confirmed President Obama's first judicial nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit this evening. Judge David Hamilton's nomination proceeded past a threatened filibuster earlier this week when the Senate voted for cloture 70-29.

    Details of the confirmation vote are available here.

    Other nominees also progressed in the Senate today. The Judiciary Committee forwarded two nominations for consideration of the full Senate: Jane Branstetter Stranch to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, by a vote of 15-4; and Judge Christina Reiss for the District of Vermont, on a voice vote.

  • November 18, 2009
    Guest Post

    By Mark Greenbaum, a political writer and attorney in Washington, D.C. Email him at [email protected]

    As we near the end of President Barack Obama's first year in office, now is a good time to take stock of his judicial nominations. Of late, this has been an issue of consternation for Democrats who are concerned both that the President has been too slow in making nominations and that Senate Republicans are obstructing confirmations.

    In order to get a better view of the matter, it is valuable to compare how nominations have been handled this year with how the process went in 2001, President George W. Bush's first year in office.

  • November 16, 2009

    President Obama's first judicial nominee may finally get a vote amid a flurry of stories about the pace of judicial nominations. Judge David Hamilton was nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit last March and quickly drew public support from both Indiana Senators Evan Bayh and Richard Lugar. His nomination was reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee by a 12-7 vote last spring. Judge Hamilton's nomination then met conservative obstruction, including a letter from Senator Jeff Sessions urging Republicans to filibuster his nomination. Reports indicate that conservatives are split on whether to filibuster. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid filed for a cloture vote last week, which may come as soon as tomorrow.

  • November 16, 2009
    Guest Post

    By Judith E. Schaeffer, Vice President, Constitutional Accountability Center

    In the next few days, the Senate is finally expected to take up the nomination of Judge David Hamilton to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. That's the same David Hamilton who was nominated way back in March, and who, in 15 years on the federal District Court in Indiana, has compiled a record so distinguished that his nomination to the Seventh Circuit has the enthusiastic support of both his home-state senators, including Richard Lugar, the most senior Republican in the Senate, as well as that of the President of the Indiana Federalist Society. Hamilton has also received the ABA's highest possible rating -- "Well Qualified."

    With that kind of support, how is it that Hamilton - the president's first judicial nominee -- has not yet been confirmed? Well, as my colleague Doug Kendall has chronicled, some Republican senators are engaged in an unprecedented effort to block President Obama's nominees, no matter how qualified they may be, no matter their bipartisan support. Never mind that, during the last Bush administration, Republicans insisted that every nominee was entitled to an "up or down" vote, and threatened to go nuclear when Democrats filibustered the most extreme of Bush's nominees.

    That was then. Now, escalating the efforts to block Judge Hamilton, already the longest victim of Republican stonewalling, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has sent a letter to his colleagues accusing Hamilton of being a judicial activist who has "used his position as a district court judge to drive a political agenda." Senator Sessions even claims that this is one of those "extraordinary circumstances where the President should be informed that his nominee is not qualified" -- in other words, that a filibuster is in order. 

    Those are pretty strong words. The problem is they can't be squared with Judge Hamilton's record, as I've explained in greater detail here. On November 10, Majority Leader Harry Reid filed for cloture on Judge Hamilton's nomination; a vote on cloture could come as early as Tuesday. Hopefully, the Midwestern duo, Senators Evan Bayh and Lugar, who both know Hamilton well and can easily rebut Senator Sessions' distortions, will convince their colleagues that there is no basis, whatsoever, for a filibuster of David Hamilton.


  • November 4, 2009

    This morning, President Obama announced two more nominees to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. North Carolina Judges Albert Diaz and James Wynn join Andre Davis, nominated April 29, 2009, and Barbara Keenan, nominated October 7 2009, in awaiting confirmation to the 15-judge circuit. Their confirmations would make a substantial dent in Fourth Circuit's the five vacancies.

    Judge Diaz, 48, currently serves as a Special Superior Court Judge for Complex Business Cases in Charlotte. He previously practiced commerical litigation after having served as a prosecutor, defense counsel, and ultimately Chief Review Officer in the Marine Corps for 25 years. Diaz would become the historically conservative court's first Latino judge.