Skip to contentNational Women's Law Center

Judicial Nominations

Senate Leaves Town Without Confirming Any More Judges

The Senate left for the August recess on Wednesday night. Apparently Senate Majority Leader McConnell and his leadership team were untroubled by the fact that only five judges have been confirmed thus far in 2015. In contrast, at this point in 2007 – the second-to-last year of President George W. Bush’s presidency – the Democratic-controlled Senate had confirmed 26 judges.

This dramatic slowdown in confirmations has not happened by accident. Attempts to schedule floor votes on nominees have been blocked at every turn. Most recently, when New York Senator Chuck Schumer asked for consent to schedule votes on three New York district court nominees – one of whom is nominated to a seat where there currently is no active judge sitting – Senate Judiciary Chairman Senator Grassley objected and informed Senator Schumer that the Senate would not be voting on any judicial nominations until the Senate returns in September. Read more »

Hearings for AG Nominee Loretta Lynch Begin This Morning

This morning, the Senate Judiciary Committee begins its hearings for Loretta Lynch, nominated to be Attorney General of the United States. Ms. Lynch, currently U.S. Read more »

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 »