Judicial Nominees OK’d as Senate Tries to Clear Backlog

Posted December 18, 2010 at 2:05pm

The Senate confirmed two more judicial nominees Saturday, bringing to eight the total of judges nominated by President Barack Obama to win confirmation in the chamber this week.

District court nominee Albert Diaz of North Carolina, who had been pending on the Senate calendar since January, was unanimously confirmed on a voice vote. Ellen Lipton Hollander of Maryland, pending since June, was confirmed in a 95-0 floor vote.

There are 30 judicial nominations still pending, including seven circuit court nominations. While some of those pending names will likely win confirmation before the Senate adjourns for the year, a few controversial picks will likely be returned to the White House. Those nominees include Goodwin Liu, nominated to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and district court nominees Louis Butler, Edward Chen and John McConnell.

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are in talks to clear a package of judicial and executive nominations in the coming days. Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who regularly bemoans the slow process of clearing judicial nominees to lifetime appointments, issued a statement Saturday calling for action.

“Thirty federal circuit and district court nominations favorably reported by the Judiciary Committee remain ready for final vote,” Leahy said in a statement. “These include 21 nominations reported unanimously and another three reported with strong bipartisan support and only a small number of no votes. These nominations should have been confirmed within days of being reported. With judicial vacancies at historic highs, we should act on these nominations.”