The U.S. Senate today unanimously confirmed Barbara Keenan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, making her the second Obama appointee on the Richmond-based court.
Keenan, previously a justice on the Virginia Supreme Court, joins the appeals court four months after the Senate confirmed Judge Andre Davis. The National Law Journal reported in November that President Barack Obama had prioritized nominations to the 4th Circuit, which is home to many cases related to national security and civil rights, and two other nominees for the court are pending.
The 99-0 vote on Keenan follows a pattern of circuit nominees waiting several months for votes in the full Senate, only to be confirmed eventually without dissent. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, decried the delays today, while Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the committee’s top GOP member, noted that many Bush nominees waited far longer and some never had even a committee vote.
Keenan’s nomination was never controversial. She served at every level of Virginia’s judiciary and had been on the state’s highest court since 1991. She was the first female judge elected in Virginia when she won a district court seat in Fairfax County in 1980, and she will be the first female judge from Virginia on the 4th Circuit.
The Judiciary Committee endorsed Keenan without dissent Oct. 29. A committee of the American Bar Association unanimously rated her well-qualified.