Monday, April 14, 2014
Senate Puts Off Vote on Ninth Circuit Nominee Friedland
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
The U.S. Senate Friday postponed its final vote on the nomination of Michelle T. Friedland to be a judge of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said on the Senate Democrats website late Thursday that an agreement had been reached to vote on the nomination April 28 when the Senate returns from a two-week recess. Reid had earlier threatened to delay the recess if Republicans insisted on using the full debate time after the Senate voted Thursday to end debate on the nomination.
Friedland’s confirmation will give the Ninth Circuit 29 active judges for the first time in its history. The San Francisco-based litigation partner in Munger, Tolles & Olson was assured of ascension to the court Thursday when senators, acting on a recent rules change allowing debate on nominations to be brought to a close by simple majority, invoked cloture by a vote of 56-41,
Republicans Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, joined with Democrats in voting to bring the nomination to a floor vote.
Friedland is a Berkeley native who graduated Stanford Law School in 2000 and is a lecturer at the school. She has played an active role in gay rights litigation, including the challenge to California’s Proposition 8 and the defense of California’s law banning gay conversion therapy for minors, leading to her being described as “radical” in some conservative circles.
Her supporters have responded with testimonials from conservative scholars and lawyers, including partners in her firm and fellow ex-clerks at the Supreme Court. Friedland clerked for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who attended her confirmation hearing in a show of support.
She would fill a vacancy created when Judge Raymond Fisher took senior status in April of last year.
In related news, Reid Friday filed motions to end debate on six district court nominations, including that of San Diego Superior Court Judge Cynthia Bashant to the Southern District of California.
Bashant has served on the San Diego Superior Court since 2000, handling both criminal and juvenile matters. From 2009 to last year, she was the presiding judge for the juvenile dependency and delinquency courts.
Prior to her appointment to the bench, Bashant served as an assistant United States attorney in the district, a post she held for 11 years. She practiced civil litigation as an associate with Baker & McKenzie in San Diego from 1988 to 1989 and with Macdonald Halsted & Laybourne in San Diego from 1986 to 1988.
The nominee is a graduate of Hastings College of the Law and of Smith College.
Reid is also seeking to end debate on the nominations of Sheryl H. Lipman in the Western District of Tennessee, Stanley A. Bastian in the Eastern District of Washington, Manish Shah in the Northern District of Illinois, Daniel D. Crabtee in the District of Kansas, and Jon D. Levy in the District of Maine.
Shah, a Stanford University graduate, would be the first Asian-American Art. III jurist in Illinois, according to the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association.
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