Senate Confirms Two Judicial Nominees After Delays

The Senate has voted to confirm two non-controversial nominees to the federal bench in Texas. With the action, Texas lost its distinction as the state with the greatest number of emergency judicial vacancies, according to a Houston Chronicle article.

Gregg Jeffrey Costa was confirmed for the Southern District on a 97-2 vote, and David Campos Guaderrama was confirmed for the Western District on a voice vote.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted favorably on their nominations in December, but a Republican protest over President Obama’s recess appointment of a consumer watchdog effectively blocked confirmation of judicial nominees from Texas and elsewhere until an agreement enabled votes on some judges.

“While this process took far too long and there remain too many unfilled judicial vacancies in Texas, this vote represents modest progress,” Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Texas said.

Confirmation delays have overloaded courts and forced a number of states to move civil cases to a lower priority, said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond. “It’s hard to deliver justice,” Tobias said. “They can’t move the cases.”

Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah cast a vote in committee that might seem surprising to observers outside of Washington: He voted against a judicial nominee for whom he also voiced “unequivocal support.”

Lee earlier had vowed solo efforts to block all of Obama’s judicial and executive branch nominees in anger over the president’s appointments in the winter recess. This week, he cast a protest “no” vote over Obama’s actions while saying in committee he actually looked forward to the ultimate confirmation of Robert Shelby of Utah, according to a Blog of Legal Times post. 

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