Bench Memos

Specter Steps Up

In Friday’s WSJ Senator Arlen Specter calls upon Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy to ensure that the pace of judicial confirmations matches that of President Clinton’s final two years in office. 

In 2007 (President Bush’s second-to-last year in office), the Senate confirmed six circuit court nominees, nearly matching the seven nominees confirmed in President Clinton’s second-to-last year in office. This is a fair start to the 110th Congress, but the Senate is still lagging behind in confirming circuit court nominees.

In President Clinton’s final two years in office, the Senate confirmed 15 circuit court nominees; thus, much work remains to be done. There are currently 14 circuit court vacancies, with a nominee pending for nearly all of the seats. The Senate must confirm nine more circuit court nominees this year to keep pace with President Clinton’s confirmations during his final two years in office.

To Specter’s credit, he stresses the need for action on the nomination of Peter Keisler to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, as well as that of Judge Robert Conrad, who President Bush nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.  As Specter notes, both are eminently qualified nominees who deserve prompt committee action, and consideration by the full Senate.  Alas, I’m not holding my breath.

Jonathan H. Adler — Jonathan H. Adler teaches courses in environmental, administrative, and constitutional law at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

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