In October 2011, President Obama nominated Magistrate Judge Patty Shwartz to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Judge Shwartz is widely respected, having earned the highest possible rating from the American Bar Association – “unanimous well qualified” — and has bipartisan support, including from Governor Chris Christie, who has praised her as “hard working, bright, articulate, great with people and conversant in the law.” And yet, today marks the one year anniversary since Judge Shwartz has been waiting for a floor vote in the United States Senate.
Unfortunately, the delay for Judge Shwartz is not unique. Last week, my colleague wrote about Judge Robert Bacharach, who was recommended to the White House by one of his Republican home state Senators, but waited 263 days for a floor vote before being confirmed 93-0. And on Monday – after 347 days of delay — the Senate will consider the nomination of Richard Taranto to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
Overall, President Obama’s judicial nominees wait an average of 117 days on the Senate floor for a vote — more than three times longer than President Bush’s judicial nominees, who waited an average of only 34 days. The Senate must promote the administration of justice by returning to the prompt consideration of judicial nominations. It should consider Judge Shwartz’s nomination without further delay, as well as the fifteen district court nominees awaiting votes. Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved five district court nominees. There is no reason they – and the others approved before them – should not be confirmed within 34 days.