This Week on

October 14, 2011

The Senate confirmed four district court nominees this week, completing a deal reached last month to schedule votes on 10 nominees. The nominees confirmed were Jane Margaret Triche-Milazzo to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, Alison J. Nathan and Katherine B. Forrest to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, and Susan Owens Hickey to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas. Nathan, who was confirmed by a narrow margin, will be the second openly lesbian federal judge in the country.

The Senate has scheduled a roll call vote this Monday at 5:30 p.m. on the confirmation of Cathy Bissoon to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, who was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee in July.

In letters to congressional leaders this week, American Bar Association President Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III urged swifter action in reducing the number of federal court vacancies.

“Nothing less than a sustained, concerted, and cooperative effort will be sufficient to make discernible progress in reducing the longstanding and dangerously high vacancy rate on the federal courts,” Robinson wrote.

The Judiciary Committee approved five nominees this week -- four by unanimous voice vote and one with Sen. Jeff Session (R-Ala.) opposed. This means there are now 27 nominees ready for a vote by the full Senate. The committee also approved the Emergency Judicial Relief Act of 2011 sponsored by Sen. Feinstein (D-Calif.) by a vote of 15-3. The bill would add district judgeships in Arizona, California, Minnesota, and Texas.

The Latest from “In the News”

  • “‘Emergency’ judge nominees for Georgia stalled in Senate slog,” from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  • “With Just Two Openly Gay Appointees, President Obama Triples The Number Of Out Federal Judges,” from ThinkProgress
  •  “Senate Confirms Three More Judicial Nominees,” from The Blog of Legal Times

The Latest from “Recommended Readings”

  • “Andrew Blotky: Making the Court a Priority for Progressives,” from The Huffington Post
  • “Obama is reshaping judiciary,” from The San Antonio Express-News
  • Federal Appellate Judges: Gender and Race Stats,” from Appellate Daily blog

Congressional Statements

  • Sen. Leahy on Confirmation of Three Judicial Nominees
  • Sen. Landrieu on Confirmation of Triche-Milazzo
  • Sens. Pryor, Boozman on Confirmation of Susan Hickey