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Bench Memos

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Senator Menendez Blocks Judicial Nominee



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Senate Republicans are not the only ones to oppose some of President Obama’s judicial nominees.  The New York Times reports that Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) is blocking confirmation of Magistrate Judge Patty Shwartz to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and not for a particularly good reason.  Judge Shwartz received a unanimous “well-qualified” rating from the ABA, and Senator Menendez has not identified any problems in her record.

 

Mr. Menendez would not comment. But the nominee, Patty Shwartz, has been in a relationship for more than two decades with the head of the public corruption unit for New Jersey’s federal prosecutor. And that unit investigated the senator during his 2006 election fight, an inquiry Mr. Menendez has long contended was politically motivated.

Judge Shwartz, now a federal magistrate judge in Newark, a lower-level position, declined to comment. But the connection has led lawyers and judges in the state to speculate that Mr. Menendez is acting out of resentment, rather than any concern about Judge Shwartz’s qualifications.

“Every lawyer in the world will tell you that she’s extraordinarily qualified, a decent person and an excellent judge, and would be an asset to the circuit,” said Tom Curtin, the chairman of the lawyers’ advisory committee for the United States District Court for New Jersey. “This was going to be words and music for her, then something happened.”



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