The Senate today confirmed Catharina Haynes, a Baker Botts partner in Dallas, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. She is the first federal appeals court nominee to be approved by the full Senate this year and the seventh in the 110th Congress.
In addition, the Senate also confirmed the following nominees for judgeships: Brian Miller in the Eastern District of Arkansas, James Hall in the Southern District of Georgia, John Mendez in the Eastern District of California, and Stanley Anderson in the Western District of Tennessee.
Last year, the Senate confirmed six federal circuit nominees and the pace is expected to slow this year ahead of the November presidential election. GOP Senators have threatened to block legislation if the Democrat-controlled Senate does not speed up the pace of judicial nominations.
Conservative groups have complained that President George W. Bush's presidency stands to expire with fewer judges on the bench than the other two-term presidents, Presidents Reagan and Clinton. Legal Times had this story on judicial nominees last month.
At least one liberal advocacy group isn't pleased with Haynes' confirmation.
“Despite President Bush’s brazen rejection of compromise and consultation over judicial nominations, his nominees have fared far better under the Senate Democrats than President Clinton’s did under Republican control," said Kathryn Kolbert, president of People For the American Way. "It is incredibly galling that Senate Republicans are throwing another tantrum over nominees the manufactured hysterics are being ramped up but aren’t fooling anyone."
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who complained about GOP posturing at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week, shot back at Republicans today:
"Despite the progress we continue to make and will make today, some of the rhetoric from the other side of the aisle suggests that judicial confirmations is the most pressing and unsatisfied need facing the country," he said in a prepared statement. "With an economic recession now facing Americans, the massive job losses this year and the home mortgage foreclosures and credit crisis, any partisan effort to create an issue over judicial confirmations is misplaced."