President Barack Obama endured his first defeat on a judicial nomination in January, when Republican opposition kept him from re-nominating his choice for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. But within weeks, his advisers apparently settled on a replacement.
Judge Christopher Droney, who is the new nominee, described the nomination process in his recent response (PDF) to a Senate questionnaire.
Droney serves on Connecticut’s federal district court, and he wrote that he contacted the staffs of his state’s two Democratic senators in January, the same month that Obama did not re-nominate Judge Robert Chatigny. Chatigny, who is also a federal district judge, drew heavy Republican criticism over his role in delaying the execution of a serial killer and was the subject of an unsuccessful judicial ethics complaint in the case.
Droney writes that the two senators, Joe Lieberman and Richard Blumenthal, “subsequently recommended me to the White House.” And on Feb. 9, he started discussions with officials at the U.S. Justice Department who screen candidates for the bench and prepare them for nomination.
An interview with DOJ and White House officials took place a month later, and Obama nominated Droney on May 4.
The four-month timeline described by Droney is relatively short. Chatigny, for example, was nominated seven months after then-Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) recommended him in July 2009, according to Chatigny’s response to the Senate’s questionnaire.
Droney has been a federal judge since 1997. Previously, he was Connecticut’s U.S. attorney for four years and a partner at Connecticut’s Reid & Riege. He served four years as the mayor of West Hartford, Conn., and he was the Connecticut chairman of Al Gore’s presidential campaign in 1988, according to his questionnaire response.
Spokespeople for the White House, Lieberman and Blumenthal did not immediately respond to requests for comment.