Senate Ends Stall, Confirms Appeals Court Judge

A long Senate standoff was ended with a 95-3 vote this week to confirm Alaska Supreme Court Justice Morgan Christen to a seat on the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Partisan politics was blamed for the 202-day wait between the time Justice Christen was nominated and the Senate’s vote to confirm her, according to a Los Angeles Times article. Twenty other judicial nominations still were being stalled, despite the Senate Judiciary Committee having voted to approve them.

Glenn Sugameli, an attorney and judicial analyst for Defenders of Wildlife, said Justice Christen’s vote finally came months after the committee had given its unanimous approval, and she had bipartisan backing from Alaska’s senators; but there were “inexcusable, unexplained Republican refusals to allow a vote.”

Earlier this month, Senate Republicans filibustered and blocked an up-or-down vote on the nomination of Caitlin Halligan to a federal appeals court for the District of Columbia (see Gavel Grab).

In the wake of the filibuster and one of a nominee to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a non-partisan group called No Labels urged a rules change so that “all presidential nominations should be confirmed or rejected within 90 days of the nomination being received by the Senate.” The group’s recommendations were the topic of a National Journal article.

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