People For the American Way

Ben Cardin Urges a Vote on a Maryland Judicial Nominee

Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland went to the Senate floor today to urge his Republican colleagues to end their partisan efforts to keep our nation’s courts from functioning at full effectiveness. He discussed a district court vacancy in his state that could be filled today, if the GOP would allow a vote on nominee George Levi Russell III.

In Maryland, Mr. President, we are trying to fill a vacancy that was created during the end of President Bush’s term of office, when Judge Peter Messitte took senior status in 2008. Judge Russell is an excellent candidate, received bipartisan support in the Judiciary Committee, and is ready to take office upon being confirmed by the Senate. The time for action is now.

Judge Russell brings a wealth of experience to this position in both state and federal courts. Earlier in his career he served as a federal prosecutor and as an attorney in a private law firm. He now sits as a state court trial judge in Maryland.

After discussing his experience as an attorney both in private practice and for the Department of Justice, Sen. Cardin turned to the bipartisan confidence that Russell has inspired among the people of Maryland.

In January 2007, Governor Ehrlich, a Republican, appointed him to serve as an Associate Judge of the Baltimore City Circuit Court for a term of 15 years. As a trial judge, Judge Russell has presided over hundreds of trials that have gone to verdict or judgment, and has experience in handling jury trials, bench trails, civil cases, and criminal cases. He has the professional experience which has been recognized by a Republican Governor and a Democratic President.

Judge Russell is a highly qualified African American who would fill a seat that has been declared a judicial emergency. His nomination garnered bipartisan support on the Judiciary Committee, where only Utah’s Mike Lee voted against him (presumably to continue protesting President Obama’s recent recess appointments).

Sen. Cardin explained who Senate Republicans are hurting the most with their obstructionism:

The real victim here is not only the nominee and their family that are awaiting final Senate action. The real victim is the American people, who face increasing delays in courts that are overburdened and understaffed. A higher vacancy rate means lack of timely hearings and decisions by our federal courts, affecting our citizens’ ability to have access to justice and a fair and impartial resolution of their complaints.


Ben Cardin, Courts, George Levi Russell III, judges, judicial nominations, Lower Federal Courts, Obstruction, Obstructionism