Pennsylvanians deserve to have a fully staffed federal bench
January 19, 2016 12:00 AM
After the Senate’s inexcusably delayed bipartisan approval of Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo’s 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals nomination (“U.S. Senate Confirms Pa. Judge to Federal Appeals Court Seat,” Jan. 12), Pennsylvania federal courts still suffer from one appellate and five trial judge vacancies.
Four July Pennsylvania district court nominees (three for the Western District, which includes Pittsburgh) need committee and floor votes. Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, made a floor statement Jan. 11 that expressed his hope that Sen. Pat Toomey “can convince the Republican majority leader not to submit [them] to the extensive confirmation delay that Judge Restrepo endured.”
There is still no nominee for Senior Judge Marjorie Rendell’s 3rd Circuit seat, even though the vacancy was announced almost a year ago. Sen. Leahy noted that “the White House has been working for months with Sen. Toomey and Sen. [Bob] Casey on th[is] second Pennsylvania vacancy. … I look forward to the Judiciary Committee considering that nomination soon.”
Pennsylvanians deserve a fully staffed federal bench. It can be done: In March 2008, President George W. Bush nominated a 4th Circuit judge whom a Democratic Senate confirmed in two months.
GLENN SUGAMELI Founder Judging the Environment Washington, D.C. The writer, a senior attorney with Defenders of Wildlife, has headed the nonpartisan Judging the Environment judicial nominations project since 2001.
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