Last night, Majority Leader Harry Reid filed a cloture petition on the nomination of Jack McConnell to the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island. This is the first cloture petition filed on a judicial nominee in the 112th Congress, and the first petition filed on a district court nominee during the Obama presidency. It is also the first cloture petition filed on a federal district court nominee since 2004.
In fact, only two cloture petitions were filed on district court nominees during George W. Bush’s presidency, and in both cases there wasn’t actually a cloture vote, as the Senate invoked cloture by unanimous consent and quickly confirmed the nominees. That there wasn’t a cloture vote on President Bush’s district court nominees is unsurprising, as district court nominees have long been subject to less Senate scrutiny than circuit court nominees. The cloture filing on Mr. McConnell’s nomination is also notable because he enjoys bipartisan support from Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
In filing the petition, Majority Leader Reid said that “I hope, as I mentioned this morning, we are not in a situation where we have to file cloture on district court judges. That is a little much... I would hope we could get this done on Wednesday when this cloture motion ripens.”