The U.S. Senate on Tuesday confirmed Patty Shwartz of New Jersey to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, more than 18 months after President Barack Obama first nominated her.
Shwartz, a federal magistrate in New Jersey since 2003, drew some opposition from Republicans who felt they did not get an opportunity to fully follow up on key issues such as her opinions on the campaign finance issues in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission and her views on Roe v. Wade.
Shwartz was first nominated in October 2011. The vote Tuesday was 64-34.
Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said before the vote that Shwartz has handled more than 4,000 civil and criminal cases and has the intellectual rigor and knowledge to effectively serve on the appeals court. Shwartz has been an adjunct professor of law at Fordham University School of Law since 2009.
Shwartz is a former federal prosecutor, joining the U.S. Attorney's Office in New Jersey in 1989 and rising through the ranks. She was chief of the criminal division or executive assistant to the U.S. Attorney between 1999 and 2003.
"She is clearly highly qualified, a woman of distinction who deserves confirmation," Menendez said. "There is not a single reason to vote no on this nomination."
The White House has been pushing for swift Senate action on judicial nominees who are waiting for votes. Before the vote on Shwartz, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking minority member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent back a message that Obama had not nominated anyone for 70 percent of the judicial vacancies.
"Quit complaining or get the nominees up here," Grassley said.