Federal Courts and Nominations

GOP Senate unanimously confirmed first federal judge. Impasse remains over Loretta Lynch.

By Colby Itkowitz 


Senate Republicans have been in charge for three months, but only Monday confirmed its first judicial nominee, Alfred H. Bennett — unanimously.


Five senators missed the vote to fill the seat on a Texas district court bench, including presidential candidates Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla). Cruz, more notably, skipped confirming his own constituent.


The slow crawl of Senate confirmations continues to include Loretta Lynch, President Obama’s pick for attorney general. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday morning that her nomination still hinges on first passing an anti-human trafficking bill, which Democrats have rejected over controversial abortion language.


“The Senate should pass this bipartisan bill right away,” McConnell said on the floor. “And as soon as that happens, we’ll turn to the Loretta Lynch nomination.”


The Constitutional Accountability Center, a left-leaning think tank that tracks federal judicial confirmations, said five nominees still await Senate floor action and another 13 need a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee.


Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) Monday evening deftly turned the table on Democrats, who confirmed a dozen federal judges at the end of 2014 before losing power. If they hadn’t passed so many, “we’d have more stars in our cap, but they got the stars in theirs,” he said.


Then, before hustling onto the Senate floor to vote for Bennett, Grassley added, “They could have done Loretta Lynch, and now they are complaining about not getting that done.”

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