People For the American Way

A Commendably Speedy Process for a Vermont Judicial Recommendation

The senators of Vermont, and especially Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy, have shown the country what an exemplary process for identifying potential district court judges looks like. Today, Leahy recommended Geoffrey Crawford to the White House as the next federal judge in Vermont.

Leahy and his colleague Sen. Bernard Sanders have moved quickly to ensure that Vermont individuals and businesses are not denied their right to a fully functioning federal court system:

  • January 15: It was announced in advance that a vacancy would be opening on June 15.
  • January 24: Sens. Leahy and Sanders announced the formation of a commission to recommend potential nominees. “The nine-member, nonpartisan panel consists of three commissioners named by Leahy, three by Sanders, and three by the Vermont Bar Association. Rep. [Peter] Welch will also have input during the selection process.”
  • February 21: Applications were due to the commission.
  • March 10-11: The commission held interviews with seven people.
  • March 12: The commission announced two recommendations to the senators.
  • March 24: Sen. Leahy recommended Geoffrey Crawford to the president for nomination. (Under Vermont tradition, the senior senators of the president’s party makes the recommendation.) Crawford is a current state Supreme Court justice with previous experience representing plaintiffs in personal injury cases, just the kind of background that enhances professional diversity on the bench and makes the federal judiciary stronger.

Just a little over two months after senators became aware of the vacancy and nearly three months before the vacancy actually becomes open, the White House has received a recommendation and can start the vetting process. As chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Leahy knows how important this is. Senators in Virginia, New Mexico, and Colorado have also moved quickly to make timely recommendations for recent vacancies in their states.

Would that every senator did so.


Bernie Sanders, Geoffrey Crawford, judicial nominations, Lower Federal Courts, Patrick Leahy