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Judicial Nominations Update: August Edition

Last week, the Senate left for its August recess after having confirmed Pamela Harris to a Maryland-based seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and obtaining cloture on the nomination of Jill Pryor to a seat on the Eleventh Circuit (her confirmation vote presumably will take place shortly after the Senate returns in early September).  Read more »

Pam Harris Nomination Moves Forward in Senate

Yesterday, the Senate voted to move forward on the nomination of Pamela Harris to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. A confirmation vote is scheduled for 5:30 pm on Monday. Read more »

Senate Poised to Vote on More Judges

Yesterday evening, the Senate confirmed three district court nominees (Andre Birotte to the Central District of California, Robin Rosenberg to the Southern District of Florida, and John deGravelles to the Middle District of Louisiana). These votes follow on the heels of the confirmation of Julie Carnes to a Georgia-based seat on the Eleventh Circuit, 94-0, on Monday evening. In addition, last night, Senate Majority Leader Reid filed cloture on the nomination of Pamela Harris to a Maryland seat on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Senate is scheduled to vote tomorrow on the question of whether or not it will move to a confirmation vote on Harris’ nomination. Read more »

Judicial Nominations Update

Today, the Senate unanimously confirmed four district court nominees, including one woman: Paul Byron and Carlos Mendoza to the Middle District of Florida; Beth Bloom, to the Southern District of Florida; and Geoffrey Crawford, to the District of Vermont. Read more »

Senate Confirms Three History-Making Judges

Earlier this week, the Senate confirmed Judge Darrin Gayles (to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida), Judge Salvador Mendoza (to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington), and Staci Yandle (to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois). As White House Counsel Neil Eggleston noted in a blog post, all three of these confirmed judges have broken barriers in their respective districts. Judge Gayles is the first openly gay African American man to be confirmed as a lifetime-appointed federal judge in our nation’s history; Judge Mendoza is the first Hispanic judge to serve on his court; and now-Judge Yandle is the first African American to serve on her court and the first openly gay lifetime-appointed federal judge in Illinois. This marks the first time that two openly gay judges have been confirmed on the same day. In addition, with today’s confirmations, President Obama has appointed more female federal judges than any other President and more Hispanic judges than any other President. Read more »

Nancy Moritz Confirmed to Tenth Circuit Yesterday

Yesterday, Nancy Moritz was confirmed to a Kansas-based seat on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Moritz, formerly a Justice on the Kansas Supreme Court, becomes the third active female judge on the Tenth Circuit. She is the 18th woman confirmed to the federal Courts of Appeal under the Obama Administration

Following Judge Moritz's confirmation, there are 20 female nominees currently pending before the Senate. Read more »

Celebrating Women's History Month: A Look at Judicial Milestones

March is women’s history month, and, as such, it is a good opportunity take stock of the gains women have made in terms of their representation on the federal judiciary in the past year and under the Obama Administration more generally. One of President Obama’s signature accomplishments was the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, where three women now serve for the first time in history. While the Supreme Court tends to garner more attention, President Obama has had an impact on the gender balance on lower federal courts as well. While the percentage of women still lags in other arenas, for example with women comprising only 4.6% of CEOs in Fortune 500 companies, women have increasingly been appointed to the federal bench: slightly under 43% of the President Obama’s confirmed nominees over the course of his administration have been women. (This percentage is nearly double the percentage of women among President George W. Bush’s confirmed judges.)

Over the last year, President Obama nominated and saw confirmed two outstanding women to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals—widely viewed as the second most important court in the country. The confirmation of these two women, Judges Patricia Millett and Cornelia (“Nina”) Pillard, brings the number of active women judges on the D.C. Circuit to nearly 50%, a historic high. 2013 also marked the confirmation of Jane Kelly to the Eight Circuit, important because she is only the second female to ever have graced that court. And, just this week, Carolyn B. McHugh was confirmed to the Tenth Circuit, bringing the number of active female judges on that court to two (out of eleven). Read more »

Carolyn McHugh Confirmed to Tenth Circuit Today

Today, the Senate confirmed Carolyn McHugh to a Utah-based seat on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals by a vote of 98-0.  Following Judge McHugh’s confirmation, the number of active female judges on this court has doubled (to two), another milestone to celebrate during Women’s History Month.Read more »

A Tale of Four Judges: First Confirmations Since January 13

There has been a troubling dearth of confirmation votes in the Senate since Robert Wilkins was confirmed to the D.C. Circuit on January 13. Since then, the number of vacancies on the federal bench has swelled, and nominees have piled up on the calendar waiting for floor votes. Finally some votes were shaken loose today, but it was a long time coming. Here’s how it started:

On February 12, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid filed cloture on four district court nominees, who had been originally nominated last June and have been waiting for votes since October.  Before the President’s Day recess, Senator Mark Pryor asked for unanimous consent to proceed to confirmation votes on two nominees to Arkansas district courts, one of whom was in the group of nominees for whom cloture was filed. In particular, Pryor noted that the filing deadline for candidates running for the state court judgeship currently held by one of the nominees opened on February 24, creating a disadvantage for potential candidates if the nominee were not confirmed before that. Senator Charles Grassley objected, and the Senate left for the President’s Day Recess without confirming anyone. Read more »