Judiciary Committee still processing nominees; Senate still moving too slowly

Judge Kevin McNulty
(District of New Jersey)
On Monday, the Senate confirmed Kevin McNulty to the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey by a vote of 91-3 (with Senators Lee, DeMint, and Vitter voting as a continuing protest of President Obama’s recess appointments of executive nominees in January). Despite facing no substantive opposition, Judge McNulty waited for over seven months for his confirmation vote.  

On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee reported out four district court nominees (on voice votes, with Senator Lee as the only opposition):
  • Frank Paul Geraci, Jr., nominee to the Western District of New York
  • Fernando M. Olguin, nominee to the Central District of California
  • Malachy Edward Mannion and Matthew W. Brann, nominees to the Middle District of Pennsylvania.  
There are now 21 nominees awaiting final confirmation votes on the Senate floor, 10 of whom would fill seats that have been declared to be judicial emergencies by the nonpartisan Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.

The number of nominees awaiting confirmation votes has grown recently, as the Senate has only confirmed 4 judicial nominees in the last month. With approximately 3 new vacancies arising each month so far this year, the Senate’s current confirmation pace is simply not fast enough to significantly reduce the number of existing vacancies in our courts.

There are currently 77 vacancies across the country, and another 13 seats will soon be vacant. Given that the president began his term in office with 55 vacancies, the Senate could go a long way toward getting back to that point by moving quickly to confirm the pending nominees who are only waiting for their final votes -- almost all of whom have strong bipartisan support -- before the upcoming August recess.