Sustained Outrage

abdulkallon.jpgchristinareiss.jpgI haven’t had a chance to write much about judicial nominations for a couple of weeks, but I was encouraged to see that the U.S. Senate used voice votes to confirm two judges last month. On Nov. 21, Abdul K. Kallon (left) and Christina Reiss (right) breezed through, becoming federal judges in Alabama and Vermont, respectively.

Hey, maybe the senators have heard the chorus of those, like University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias in a recent commentary, calling for a faster confirmation process, and have decided to ratchet down the partisan political skirmishes. At least as far as judicial nominees are concerned.

Not so fast.

On Tuesday, by a roll-call vote, the Senate confirmed Jacqueline Nguyen to the federal bench in the Central District of California. Judge Nguyen’s nomination must have been controversial, right, if she merited a roll-call vote?

Nope. Unanimous. 97-0.

She joins earlier district court nominees like West Virginia’s own Judge Irene C. Berger (97-0), South Dakota Judges Jeffrey L. Viken (99-0) and Roberto A. Lange (100-0) and Florida Judge Charlene E. Honeywell (88-0) who underwent roll-call votes, only to wrack up a grand total of zero votes cast against them.

In fact, none of President Obama’s district court nominees have had any votes cast against them on the senate floor. (And only two have had any votes cast against them in committee: Edward M. Chen, nominated to the Northern District of California, 12-7, on Oct. 15, and Louis B. Butler Jr., Western District of Wisconsin, 12-7, earlier today.)

And yet district court nominees continue to get roll-call votes on the Senate floor.

Except for Judge Kallon and Judge Reiss, who were voted on only two days after they passed out of committee, by far the shortest wait of any Obama judicial nominee.

What makes them different? Oh yes, they hail from the home states of Judiciary Ranking Member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), respectively.