Today's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing exemplified the great steps President Obama is taking to increase the personal and professional diversity in the federal judiciary. Five district court nominees introduced themselves to the senators and answered questions. Of the five:
Two are openly gay. Three are Latinos. One of them would be the nation's first openly lesbian Latina on the federal bench. Three have experience as public defenders.
Each nominee is highly qualified, is supported by both of their home state senators, and faced no difficult questions at the hearing.
Michael McShane (District of Oregon), Ken Gonzales (District of New Mexico), and Nitza Quiñones Alejandro, Luis Felipe Restrepo, and Jeffrey Schmehl (all of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania) will make excellent additions to the federal bench.
It is worth noting that the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has a staggering eight vacancies out of 22 judgeships. All three of the Pennsylvania nominees would fill seats that have been vacant for at least two years. Sen. Toomey noted that Berks County, where Schmehl would serve, has not had an active judge serve that area in three years.
All five of today's nominees deserve timely consideration by the Senate.