The U.S. Senate could vote as soon as next week to confirm four stalled nominees for legal positions, including the head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Policy and two vacancies on federal appellate courts.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) moved Thursday to cut off debate on the four legal nominees and on a fifth nominee, Lael Brainard, for a top Treasury Department position. The Senate is scheduled to vote Monday at 5:30 p.m. on whether to bring Brainard’s nomination to an actual confirmation vote. Similar votes on the other four could then follow throughout the week.
Among the four are Christopher Schroeder, a Duke University law professor and former chief counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee who has been nominated to run the Office of Legal Policy. The office is the Justice Department’s internal “think tank” and helps to vet judicial nominees. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) has questioned Schroeder about supporting President Barack Obama’s view that empathy is an important quality in judges.
The two appellate court nominees in the group are Denny Chin for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit and Thomas Vanaskie for the 3rd Circuit. Both are federal district judges now, Chin in the Southern District of New York and Vanaskie in the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Neither has faced heated opposition.
The fourth legal nominee is D.C. Magistrate Judge Marisa Demeo for a spot on the D.C. Superior Court. Demeo is a former assistant U.S. attorney and a former lawyer and lobbyist for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. As The National Law Journal reported in February, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and other Republicans have objected to her nomination because of what DeMint calls a “history of very leftist activism.” In a fight that split the Latino bar, Demeo also opposed President George W. Bush’s ultimately unsuccessful nomination of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher partner Miguel Estrada to the D.C. Circuit.
Hat tip: Senatus.