President Barack Obama announced seven nominations for federal district courts on Wednesday, asking the Senate to promptly consider all his judicial nominees because "too many of our courtrooms stand empty."
The nominations, coming just one day after the Senate returned to session after the presidential election, was cheered by liberal groups that have long decried the political stalemate that has stalled judicial confirmations and left bench seats open.
"We are so glad to see President Obama take such decisive and needed action today to help end the vacancy crisis," American Constitution Society President Caroline Fredrickson said in a written statement. "By nominating these judges so quickly after his re-election, he has made it clear that our courts are a priority."
Nancy Zirkin, executive vice president of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said the nominations reflect "the President's historic commitment to advancing a diverse judiciary that looks like America."
"If confirmed, these nominees would bring more women, minorities, and openly gay judges to courts to better reflect the nation they serve," Zirkin said in a written statement.
The new nominees include former Federal Bureau of Investigation general counsel Valerie Caproni for the Southern District of New York. Caproni is currently vice president and deputy general counsel at Northrop Grumman Corp., and has previously worked at the Securities and Exchange Commission, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York and the law firms Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and Cravath, Swaine & Moore.
Also for the Southern District of New York, Obama nominated Analisa Torres, currently a Justice of the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan, where she has handled criminal felony cases since 2010.
Other nominees include Beverly O’Connell, a superior court judge for Los Angeles County in California since 2005, who was nominated for the Central District of California; Kenneth Gonzales, the United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico since 2010, for the District of New Mexico; Raymond Moore, the federal public defender for the Districts of Colorado and Wyoming, for the District of Colorado; William Thomas, a state circuit judge in Florida since 2005, for the Southern District of Florida; and Derrick Watson, an assistant U.S. attorney in the District of Hawaii since 2007, to the District of Hawaii.