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Judicial Nominations

Judicial Nominations Update: Lame Duck Edition

On Tuesday, Senator Reid filed for cloture on five district court nominations (Pamela Pepper to the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Brenda K. Sannes to the Northern District of New York, Madeline Cox Arleo to the District of New Jersey, Wendy Beetlestone to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and Victor Allen Bolden to the District of Connecticut). Four of the nominees are women and would increase gender representation on the bench – for example, Pamela Pepper would be the first woman judge in the district to which she has been nominated. Cloture and confirmation votes are expected this week.   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 »

Senate Confirms Two Circuit Court Judges This Week

On Monday, the Senate confirmed Gregg Costa to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Senate left for its Memorial Day recess yesterday after confirming another circuit court judge, David Barron to the First Circuit Court of Appeals. This caps off a month in which a total of 15 judicial nominees were confirmed (3 to the Courts of Appeals and 12 to the District Courts). Moreover, yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid filed cloture on three district court nominees, setting the stage for votes during the first week in June, after the Senate returns from its recess. Read more »

Update on Senate Action on Judges (So Far!) This Week

Following the confirmation of Michelle Friedland to the Ninth Circuit on Monday, the Senate voted to move forward on six nominees to district court seats on Tuesday. These nominees — Sheryl Lipman to the Western District of Tennessee, Allen Bastian to the Eastern District of Washington, Manish Shah to the Northern District of Illinois, Daniel Crabtree to the District of Kansas, Cynthia Bashant to the Southern District of California, and Jon Levy to the District of Maine — were confirmed on Wednesday. Read more »

Michelle Freidland Confirmed to Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

Yesterday, the Senate confirmed Michelle Friedland to the Ninth Circuit by a vote of 51-40. This important court will definitely benefit from now-Judge Friedland’s exceptional talents, and her confirmation as the 17th woman ever to sit on that court increases its diversity. Read more »

Confirmation Vote on Michelle Friedland at 5:30 Today

Today, after the Senate returns from its two-week recess, it is scheduled to vote on the confirmation of Michelle Friedland to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. 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 »

Another "Firsts" Judge Nominated Yesterday

Yesterday, President Obama nominated Staci Michelle Yandle to a seat on the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. If confirmed, she would be the first openly gay judge to serve in the Seventh Circuit (comprised of Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin), and the first African-American to serve on the Southern District of Illinois. Read more »

Robert Wilkins’ Nomination Advances To The Senate Floor

Yesterday, the Senate voted 55-38-1 to allow an up-or-down vote on the nomination of Judge Robert Wilkins to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. This welcome development will be followed by thirty hours of debate and then final consideration by the full Senate.

Judge Wilkins will be the third of three recent outstanding nominees to the D.C. Circuit to receive a vote before the full Senate. All three nominees were originally filibustered.   Read more »

Why Nina Pillard Deserves an Up-or-Down Vote

Tomorrow, the Senate will vote on whether or not to move to a confirmation vote on the nomination of Cornelia (Nina) Pillard to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Nina Pillard is the second of three exceptionally qualified nominees to the D.C. Circuit pending before the Senate. She has had a remarkable legal career, checking every box of excellence and achievement. She has a broad spectrum of legal experience, having litigated at every level of the federal courts, including the Supreme Court, where she has argued nine cases and briefed dozens more. She served two tours in the Department of Justice, in the Solicitor General’s office and the Office of Legal Counsel. Currently, she is a professor at Georgetown University Law Center, where she both teaches and serves a Co-Director of the Supreme Court Institute, which prepares lawyers for oral argument.

In addition to her stellar qualifications and extraordinary experience, however, Nina Pillard’s career has an additional outstanding characteristic: she has been involved in two of the most significant recent Supreme Court cases dealing with women’s legal equality. First, she wrote the winning briefs in the case that opened the Virginia Military Institute to women. After the George H.W. Bush Administration first challenged the school’s male-only admissions policy, she wrote the briefs on behalf of the Clinton Administration that convinced the Supreme Court to strike it down under the Equal Protection Clause. Nina Pillard’s role in the VMI case has earned her the support of VMI alumnae, the former VMI superintendent (who initially opposed the admission of women), and over thirty former military officials [PDF]. Read more »