Leaders on the Senate Judiciary Committee are in discussions about whether to hold second confirmation hearings for some of President Barack Obama's judicial nominees, aides say.
The question of whether some nominees will be required to repeat parts of the confirmation process has been hanging since Jan. 5. That’s when Obama renominated all but one of the unconfirmed choices he sent to the Senate during the past two years.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has scheduled Jan. 27 committee votes for nine nominees, bypassing possible second hearings for them. The nine include James Boasberg, now a D.C. Superior Court judge, and Amy Jackson, a Trout Cacheris partner, for U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Leahy spokeswoman Erica Chabot writes in an e-mail that senators have not determined the fate of other nominees. “[W]e are discussing how to proceed on other nominations,” she writes.
Beth Levine, a spokeswoman for Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the committee’s ranking Republican, notes that the nine nominees scheduled for next week received voice votes last year, an indication that they’re not controversial. “Senator Grassley looks forward to working cooperatively with Chairman Leahy, and is currently discussing with him which nominees may merit an additional hearing,” Levine writes in an e-mail.
The situation is complicated by the fact that the Senate is not officially organized for its new session. Senate leaders need to determine the partisan ratios for committees, likely tightening the 12-7 majority that Democrats held on the Judiciary Committee last year. After the defeats of Sens. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) and Arlen Specter (D-Pa.), the committee is split 10-7, and a new Republican senator or two could join.
Among the pending nominees who have received the most scrutiny is Goodwin Liu, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who is Obama’s choice for a vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.