Behind the good news that the Senate is finally moving to confirm more district nominees, it should be noted that many of the nominees getting votes are ones that could easily have been approved last year. Most recently, Senate Republicans have lifted their opposition to scheduling a vote for Sheri Polster Chappell, a district court nominee who was originally approved unanimously by the Judiciary Committee in the 112th Congress but denied a confirmation vote due to Republican obstruction.
Chappell's was just one of ten circuit and district court nominations that could have and should have had confirmation votes during the previous Congress, having been fully vetted and approved by the Judiciary Committee and forwarded to the Senate floor for a yes-or-no vote. It was bad enough that they were blocked last year. Not allowing a quick vote for all ten early in the new Congress added insult to injury. Now it is the middle of May, and a vote is finally being allowed on Chappell, the ninth of the original ten to get a vote.
This is a shameful record for Senate Republicans.
Yet even after Chappell's confirmation vote, there will still be one of the ten who is being blocked, despite having been approved by the Judiciary Committee last June. Florida state judge Brian Davis was recommended by a bipartisan selection commission put together by Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio. The senators in turn recommended Davis to the White House.
The ABA panel charged with evaluating judicial nominees unanimously gave him their highest evaluation. The vacancy he would fill has been designated a judicial emergency by the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts, meaning the caseload in that courthouse is so high that it impacts Americans' right to have their day in court.
He had a Judiciary Committee hearing more than a year ago and had his nomination forwarded to the full Senate in June of last year. Yet since his re-nomination in January, Sen. Rubio has yet to express his support. Such home-state senator support is needed before the committee will process a nomination, under protocols used by current Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy (but ignored, when convenient, when the committee was controlled by Republicans). It is past time for the delay to end and for Judge Davis to have a swift committee vote and yes-or-no confirmation vote by the full Senate.