Senate Vote Cleared for Embattled Nominee

Magistrate Judge Edward Chen of California, whom President Obama has nominated for the federal district court four times, may get an up-or-down Senate vote soon.

An announcement was posted to the Senate calendar Thursday stating the Senate had reached an agreement for debate and vote on the embattled nominee:

“At a time to be determined by the Majority Leader, in consultation with the Republican Leader, there will be 3 hours of debate on the Chen nomination, with the time equally divided and controlled between Senators [Patrick] Leahy and [Charles] Grassley or their designees. Upon the use or yielding back of time, the Senate will proceed to a roll call vote on confirmation of the Chen nomination.”

Earlier this week, a bipartisan Senate vote cut off a threatened GOP filibuster of another controversial nominee, John McConnell of Rhode Island, and later voted to confirm him. Some advocates expressed hope the proceedings signaled an opportunity for the Senate to proceed without the same level of partisan squabbling over other trial court nominations.

Regarding the scheduling of Senate action on Chen’s nomination, Glenn Sugameli of Defenders of Wildlife said, “This is important but not particularly surprising; the 63-33 cloture vote on Jack McConnell forestalled a widely anticipated filibuster against Edward Chen’s long-delayed nomination to the Northern District of California.” Sugameli, an attorney, has headed the environmental community’s Judging the Environment project.

Chen has been criticized for statements on the benefit of judicial diversity and his 16 years of work as an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union (see Gavel Grab for more about him).

A Sacramento Bee editorial described Chen as “among the most well-qualified nominees to come along in years. He has served for almost a decade as a magistrate, authoring more than 350 opinions.”

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