Senate Confirms Another Two Judicial Nominees

March 1, 2011

The Senate unanimously confirmed two more judicial nominees late yesterday, bringing the number of judicial confirmations this term to seven.

The nominees, Amy Totenberg and Steve C. Jones, will both serve on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

"There is both good news and bad news represented by today's debate," said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy before the Senate's vote. "The good news is that we begin another week by considering two of President Obama's judicial nominations. ... The bad news is that we did not consider these nominations earlier, and that we are not considering any of the other 8 judicial nominees awaiting final Senate consideration and confirmation. Two of those nominees, Sue Myerscough and James Shadid, were each nominated to fill emergency vacancies on the Central District of Illinois. Their confirmations would help relieve the Chief Judge of that district, who is the only active judge in the entire district."

Leahy added that he was disappointed the nominees were not considered before the Presidents' Day recess. He continued:

We used to be able to clear the calendar of nominations before a recess. All six of these judicial nominees were approved unanimously by the Judiciary Committee weeks before the recess and are likely to be confirmed unanimously by the Senate, when they are finally allowed to be considered. With persistently high judicial vacancies around the country, the Senate should be considering judicial nominations without unnecessary delays.

When these two nominations are confirmed, there will still be nearly 100 Federal judicial vacancies around the country. That is too many and they have persisted for too long. That is why Chief Justice Roberts, Attorney General Holder, White House Counsel Bob Bauer and many others-including the President of the United States-have spoken out and urged the Senate to act.

Yesterday afternoon U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth, chief judge for the D.C. District Court, added his voice to the call for swifter confirmations during remarks at a Brookings Institute event, telling the Senate, "You're injuring the federal judiciary," The Blog of Legal Times reports.

The unnecessary delays, Lamberth said, are having a "powerful and negative impact on persuading the best and the brightest to undertake the process to become a federal judge."

W. Royal Furgeson, Jr., a senior judge from the Northern District of Texas, also lamented the slow confirmation process during the Brookings Institute event, saying the high volume of cases reminded him of night traffic court, where cases are processed like an assembly line, the Justice Watch blog reports.

There are now 100 vacant seats subject to Senate confirmation on the federal courts. To learn more about the judicial vacancy crisis and follow developments, visit