Creating a judicial pool for the 21st Century, one with intellect, fair-mindedness and integrity that resembles the nation that it serves, is a top priority for President Obama and his administration. In fact, the President’s nominations for federal judges embody an unprecedented commitment to expanding the racial, gender and experiential diversity of the men and women who enforce our laws and deliver justice.
Hon. Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice
confirmation date: 8/6/2009
Hon. Elena Kagan, Associate Justice
confirmation date: 8/7/2010
Unfortunately, the delays these nominees are encountering on Capitol Hill are equally unprecedented: earlier this month, the Senate left for its August recess without considering 20 eminently qualified candidates, 16 of whom had passed through the bipartisan Senate Judiciary Committee completely unopposed, a development the Washington Post called “not only frustrating but also destructive” in an editorial published yesterday.
The victims of these delays, of course, are the American citizens who are being denied the fair and timely judicial proceedings they deserve because of the chronic shortage of federal judges on the bench. Stephen Zack, president of the American Bar Association, told Senate leaders in a recent letter that the abundance of vacant federal judgeships “create strains that will inevitably reduce the quality of our justice system and erode public confidence in the ability of the courts to vindicate constitutional rights or render fair and timely decisions.”
<strong>Senate approves New Jersey judge for appeals court</strong>
4/9/13 By HENRY C. JACKSON | Associated Press – 3 hrs ago
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate on Tuesday confirmed New Jersey judge Patty Shwartz to serve on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, giving her a lifetime appointment to the Philadelphia-based court.
Shwartz was confirmed by a vote of 64-34, with most Republicans opposing her nomination. The 3rd Circuit handles cases from Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania and can sometimes be the last stop before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Senate’s confirmation came after Shwartz’s nomination was at first held up by a Democrat, New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez.
Menendez initially said he wasn’t satisfied by Shwartz’s answers to several legal questions. After he met with Shwartz earlier this year, Menendez lifted his hold and said he was satisfied with her answers.
“I’ve always taken the role of advice and consent for judicial nominations very seriously … appointments to the federal bench are lifetime appointments,” Menendez said on Tuesday.
Menendez and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Va., the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, spoke in support of Shwarz on the Senate floor.
“Judged on her qualifications and her record, Judge Patty Shwartz should be confirmed by an overwhelming bipartisan vote,” Leahy said.
But many Republicans opposed her nomination, some citing her performance during a committee hearing about her nomination. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said he opposed Shwartz’s nomination because of what he called a “lack of candor” during the panel.
“I was unable to make the determination that she is prepared to be a circuit court judge,” said Grassley, the ranking Republican the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I share doubts raised regarding her limited knowledge of constitutional law, misapplication of standards of review, and inadequate understanding of substantive areas of the law.”
Shwartz is currently a magistrate judge for U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey and an adjunct law professor. She previously worked in the U.S. attorney’s office in New Jersey.
There will still be 14 other judicial nominees awaiting floor votes. Of these 14, 13 were approved by the Judiciary Committee unanimously, and five nominees would fill judicial emergencies. They have been waiting on the Senate floor for an average of 67 days for a vote. That’s nearly twice as long as President Bush’s judicial nominees.