May 4, 2023

On The Bench: Week May 4, 2023

The Senate made substantial progress on judicial nominations this week. As of this writing, there have been 6 Article III confirmations: Anthony Johnstone (9th Cir.) in a 49-45 vote, Orelia Merchant (E.D.N.Y.) in a 51-48 vote, Michael Farbiarz (D.N.J.) in a 65-34 vote, Judge LaShonda Hunt (N.D. Ill.) in a 56-41 vote, Judge Wesley Hsu (C.D. Cal.) in a 53-43 vote, and Judge Robert Kirsch (D.N.J.) in a 57-42 vote. These confirmations help alleviate some of the backlog of judicial nominees on the Senate floor. After these confirmations, there are still 20 Article III nominees waiting for cloture and confirmation votes.

On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a mark-up. Due to ongoing attendance issues, the Committee was unable to advance any Article III nominees out of Committee.

The White House announced the next slate of judicial nominees this week. The slate contained four district court nominees: Judge Loren AliKhan (D.D.C.), Susan DeClercq (E.D. Mich.), Judge Julia Munley (M.D. Pa.), and Judge Vernon Oliver (D. Conn.). This slate continues the White House’s trend of trying to diversify the federal bench, as a majority of these candidates are women, and a majority are people of color.

As of May 4, there are 97 Article III vacancies, 73 of which are current. Once the new nominees are officially nominated, there will be 36 pending nominees: 20 waiting for floor votes, 7 waiting to be reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and 9 waiting for hearings before the Committee. To date, 125 Article III judges have been confirmed during the Biden-Harris Administration.

In other judiciary news, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on judicial ethics this week. The hearing seemed to be a response to the ongoing reporting about Justice Clarence Thomas and billionaire Harland Crow by ProPublica.