This morning, the Judiciary Committee voted to approve  a number of judicial nominations and send them to the Senate floor. Among them were two key circuit court nominees who were blocked from confirmation votes in the previous congress, Patty Shwartz  (Third Circuit) and Caitlin Halligan  (DC Circuit). With Judge David Sentelle taking senior status this week, four of the 11 judgeships at the DC Circuit are now vacant.
Press Secretary Jay Carney has told reporters:
Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the nomination of Caitlin Halligan for the DC Circuit. Ms. Halligan has the experience, integrity, and judgment to serve with distinction on this court, which now stands more than a third vacant. Her broad bipartisan support from the legal and law enforcement communities should lead to swift confirmation.
The Senate Judiciary Committee also approved twelve other nominees for federal judgeships with bipartisan support – eleven unanimously. All of them are extremely well-qualified and would make excellent judges. They also reflect the President's unprecedented commitment to a judiciary that reflects the nation it serves. We urge the Senate to move forward on all of the judicial nominees pending before it. Some would fill judicial emergencies, and some have been waiting hundreds of days for a vote. This needless delay is unacceptable, and these nominees deserve immediate consideration by the full Senate.
We welcome the Obama Administration's focus on confirming the many qualified judicial nominations that are moving through the confirmation process. There is no reason that his second term should see the same kind of obstruction on judges that we suffered through during the first.