Senator Signs Off on Nominee for U.S. Appeals Court

Judge Restrepo
Judge Restrepo

The Senate Judiciary Committee has completed a background investigation on the nominee for an appeals court seat, and Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania has signed off on the nominee, the senator’s office told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

President Obama’s nomination of U.S. District Judge Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo for the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has drawn media attention over delays that kept Restrepo from getting a confirmation hearing recently (see Gavel Grab). Some activists and commentators contended Toomey, a Republican, was “slow-walking” the nomination as part of partisan maneuvering in the GOP-controlled Senate.

Toomey denied that allegation. Nonetheless, questions have been asked about why the background investigation took half a year, when the nominee had been vetted for a lower court judgeship just two years ago.

The nomination of Judge Restrepo “is just the top of the iceberg,” said Glenn Sugameli, who monitors judicial appointments for Judging the Environment, a Defenders of Wildlife project. “There are other inexcusably delayed vacancies,” he said. “It’s pretty clear there is massive slow-walking going on and it’s hurting people” in districts where backlogs of cases are accumulating and judges cannot keep pace.