During an April 27 online discussion on washingtonpost.com, when asked whether "the Senate Judiciary Committee has been holding any hearings/votes on judicial nominees," Washington Post congressional reporter Jonathan Weisman responded: "No, that process has pretty much stopped in its tracks. The president may continue to do the nominations, mostly as a statement that he still is relevant, but the committee has shown no interest in the issue." In fact, the Senate Judiciary Committee reported on the nominations of two judicial nominees on April 25 and held hearings on four judicial nominations on April 11. Also, since the Democrats assumed control of the Senate, 16 of President Bush's judicial nominees have been confirmed.
From Weisman's online discussion:
New York: Jonathan: With the ongoing U.S. Attorneys scandal, do you know if the Senate Judiciary Committee has been holding any hearings/votes on judicial nominees? It seems to me that if they want to get more White House/Department of Justice cooperation, they could simply slow all judicial nominees down to a crawl or halt them completely.
Jonathan Weisman: No, that process has pretty much stopped in its tracks. The president may continue to do the nominations, mostly as a statement that he still is relevant, but the committee has shown no interest in the issue.
In fact, on April 25, the Senate Judiciary Committee reported district court nominees Frederick J. Kapala and Benjamin H. Settle favorably to the full Senate. On April 11, the committee held a hearing on Debra Ann Livingston a nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, as well as district court nominees Roslynn Renee Mauskopf, Richard Joseph Sullivan, and Joseph S. Van Bokkelen.
On March 15, the full Senate voted unanimously to confirm 3rd Circuit nominee Thomas M. Hardiman, and 9th Circuit nominee Norman R. Smith on February 15. Since March 1, the Senate has also voted unanimously to confirm district court nominees Halil Suleyman Ozerden, George H. Wu, and John A. Jarvey, and approved district court nominees John P. Bailey, Otis D. Wright, II, and Sara E. Lioi by voice vote and Vanessa L. Bryant by unanimous consent.
When the Senate confirmed Ozerden to a Mississippi district court seat, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) stated on the Senate floor: "By approving yet another lifetime appointment, we continue to proceed promptly and efficiently to confirm judicial nominees. With this confirmation, the Senate will have confirmed 16 lifetime appointments to the Federal bench so far this year." He also pointed out: "The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts lists 48 judicial vacancies, yet the President has sent us only 27 nominations for these vacancies. Twenty one of these vacancies -- almost half -- have no nominee. Of the 16 vacancies deemed by the Administrative Office to be judicial emergencies, the President has yet to send us nominees for 6 of them. That means more than a third of the judicial emergency vacancies are without a nominee." Leahy added:
LEAHY: I have worked cooperatively with Members from both sides of the aisle on our committee and in the Senate to move quickly to consider and confirm these judicial nominations so that we can fill vacancies and improve the administration of justice in our Nation's Federal courts. The nomination we consider today has the support of both Senator [Thad] Cochran [R-MS] and Senator [Trent] Lott [R-MS].