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Senate Set to Act on Judicial Nominations

Trying to break a lengthy fight over nominations, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on Tuesday evening called for a vote on three nominations to the federal bench. Under pressure from Republicans angry about the process, Leahy said the Senate would allow a roll-call vote on Helene White, who has been nominated to the 6th Circuit Court. White was confirmed 63-27, while the other judges were approved by unanimous consent. Judiciary ranking member Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) has objected to White because he believes that Democrats have fast-tracked her nomination, not allowing her to go through the proper vetting process. “We had the hearing on Judge Helene White, and we had it in a very hurried basis. We did not have the rating of the American Bar Association. And, unfortunately, we did not have the materials which should have been available,” Specter complained. For months, Republican Senators have been hammering Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for allegedly breaking a promise to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that would allow the chamber to vote on several judicial nominations before the Memorial Day break. Leahy shot back that Republicans have been using procedural delays to halt Judiciary hearings, prompting Democrats to employ other tactics. “Week after week, the Senate continues to make progress in filling judicial vacancies. We hear a steady stream of grumbling from Republicans whose main priority now is to prevent the Senate and the Judiciary Committee from addressing the priorities of Americans,” Leahy said. Raymond Kethledge, nominated for the 6th Circuit Court, and Stephen Joseph Murphy III, nominated for the Eastern District of Michigan, will be considered by a voice vote.

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