Senate Democrats say they will try to press ahead with committee votes Thursday for three top nominees to the Department of Justice, trying to solidify the department’s leadership a month after President Barack Obama’s nomination.
The Senate Judiciary Committee had already given notice that Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) was planning a vote on David Ogden’s nomination for deputy attorney general. A Democratic spokeswoman says today that Leahy also plans votes on Elena Kagan’s nomination for solicitor general and on Thomas Perrelli’s nomination for associate attorney general, the department’s No. 3 position.
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), the ranking GOP member of the committee, has repeatedly expressed frustration at not having more time to question the nominees and consider their records, and under committee rules, Republicans could ask for an additional one-week delay for each nominee. But by putting the nominations on Thursday’s agenda, Leahy all but assures that the committee will vote by March 5. Votes by the full Senate would follow.
On that schedule, Kagan, the dean of Harvard Law School, will have missed the midpoint of the Supreme Court’s term by a couple weeks. The Court returned today from its mid-winter recess and resumed hearing oral arguments.
Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. is the only Justice Department nominee whom the Senate has confirmed this year. Ogden is a partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, and Perrelli is managing partner of Jenner & Block’s D.C. office.
UPDATE (2:50 p.m.): The Judiciary Committee just posted the two nominees' answers to written follow-up questions from senators. Kagan's are here. Perrelli's are here. Scroll to "Responses to Questions Submitted for the Record."