Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Page 1


California Judicial Nominees Stranded as Senate Recesses for Year Amidst Partisan Rancor


By a MetNews Staff Writer


Twenty-one nominees for the federal bench, including three from California, lost their prospects for confirmation this year, after the Senate recessed Saturday without a vote.

Southern District Magistrate Judge Cathy Bencivegno, nominated for a judgeship in that district; Los Angeles attorney Michael Fitzgerald, nominated for the U.S. District Court for the Central District, and Central District Judge Jacqueline Nguyen, nominated for elevation to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, were among those whose nominations were ordered returned to President Obama under Senate rules.

All three had been approved without opposition by the Senate Judiciary Committee. While not permitting a vote on the nominees, Republican senators did allow their nominations to remain pending for consideration next year.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., bemoaned the lack of action on the unopposed nominees. A copy of his floor statement was released by his office.

“There are 21 judicial nominees awaiting final Senate action, all but two of them reported with significant bipartisan support, 16 of them unanimously,” the Senator said. “That means nearly every judicial nomination can and should be confirmed before the Senate adjourns. Yet, the Senate’s Republican leadership is repeating the terrible practice at the end of last year in which 19 judicial nominees were blocked by Republicans and stalled at the end of the year.  It then took until June to take action on 17 of those nominees.”

Republicans said they objected to the confirmations in the absence of guarantees that the president will not attempt to make recess appointments, particularly of nominees whom they have been filibustering, such as Manhattan Deputy District Attorney Caitlin Halligan and former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray.

Halligan, nominated to the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, has an activist liberal agenda, GOP opponents say. Cordray has been nominated to head the new Consumer Protection Financial Bureau, and Republicans have indicated they will not confirm anyone to the post because they want the bureau, created before Democrats lost seats last November, restructured and its leadership decentralized.

While allowing the three California nominations and several others to remain pending, individual senators objected to several nominations, which will now be returned to the president. He may resubmit them after the Senate returns Jan. 3, although no actual business will be transacted until after the president gives his State of the Union address later that month.

Returned nominations were those of Victoria Frances Nourse of Wisconsin to the Seventh Circuit; Halligan; Louis B. Butler Jr. in the District of Wisconsin, Michael Charles Green, Western District of New York; V. Natasha Perdew Silas and Linda T. Walker, Northern District of Georgia; Arvo Mikkanen, District of Oklahoma, and Steve Six of Kansas to the Tenth Circuit.


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