The Senate confirmed a federal district judge Monday night and agreed to hold a confirmation vote for a second district judge before the end of the lame duck session, but at the same time cast doubt on whether 17 other pending judicial nominees could get votes this year.
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), made it clear on the Senate floor that Republicans who agreed to these two confirmation votes during a lame duck session felt they were a rarity and a sign that President Barack Obama's judicial nominees are being treated more than fairly.
Monday's 92-1 confirmation vote for Paul Grimm to become a U.S. district judge in the District of Maryland was only the fourth judicial confirmation during a lame-duck session in more than 70 years, Grassley said before the vote Monday. Republicans also agreed not to block a vote on Michael Shea for a district judge slot in the District of Connecticut.
"So for those who say we are treating this president differently, I would say we have treated him far better than most presidents," Grassley said. "Yet, despite that record, and despite the fact that we are about to confirm yet another district court nominee, all we hear from the other side are complaints. I must say, it makes it quite difficult to work cooperatively–no matter what you do–[when] all you hear are complaints."
Grassley was responding to concerns from progressive groups that argue there is no reason for the Senate to not immediately confirm the other 17 nominees, many of whom were approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee with broad support.
Grimm was a non-controversial nominee, whose qualifications were applauded by both parties before the vote. He was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee with a voice vote in June, but presidential-year politics and blocks from Senate Republicans meant a six-month wait for a vote in the full Senate.
Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) called Grimm, who has been a federal magistrate in the District of Maryland for the past 15 years, "an outstanding legal mind" who is known as a trailblazer, while Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said Grimm brought "a wealth of experience to this position."
Grimm, the chief magistrate in the district since 2006, also has been an adjunct professor of law at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law and at the University of Baltimore School of Law.