Sotomayor Moves Forward; Other Nominees Languish

Posted July 17, 2009 at 6:00pm

While the Senate Judiciary Committee appears poised to advance the nomination of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor with relative ease, a host of President Barack Obama’s executive branch nominees still linger, and the timeline for their consideration appears murky.Atop that list is Office of Legal Counsel nominee Dawn Johnsen, an Indiana University law professor who has come under fire from some social conservatives over her positions on abortion and the war on terror.Johnsen’s nomination is also opposed by moderate Democratic Sens. Ben Nelson (Neb.) and Arlen Specter (Pa.). Those objections, coupled with the absences of ailing Sens. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) and Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), make Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) task of mustering 60 votes to clear the nomination all the more difficult.Johnsen had a contentious confirmation hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Feb. 25. The panel approved her nomination on March 20 on a party-line, 11-7 vote.Meanwhile, the Senate Armed Services Committee is waiting to schedule a confirmation hearing for Rep. John McHugh (R-N.Y.), nominated by Obama on June 2 to serve as secretary of the Army. Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), who chairs the panel, said McHugh must answer a series of written questions before he schedules a hearing.However, Levin predicted a smooth ride for McHugh, saying he would vote for the GOP lawmaker’s confirmation.Reid has regularly voiced frustration at the backlog of nominees — which currently number more than two dozen — that are awaiting floor consideration. Included in that lineup are a handful of judicial nominees: Thomas Perez, tapped for an assistant attorney general position; David Hamilton, nominated to fill a vacancy in the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; and Andre Davis, nominated to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The Judiciary Committee approved all three on June 4.