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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Obama Renominates Four Controversial Judicial Nominees

One of the deals worked out in the lame duck session was the confirmation of 19 judicial nominees without action on four controversial nominees, including Goodwin Liu and John J. "Jack" McConnell.

As reported by AP (h/t Senatus):
President Barack Obama on Wednesday resubmitted a batch of federal judicial nominations that didn't clear the Senate last year, including four that provoked strong objections from some Republican lawmakers.

Obama sent 42 names to the Senate. They include 35 nominees for federal district courts and seven for the appellate courts.

The most controversial of the four is Goodwin Liu, a dean at the University of California, Berkeley, law school. Liu was renominated for a seat on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. He also is seen as a potential Supreme Court pick by a Democratic president.

Republicans have criticized Liu for negative comments about then-Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, now a justice on the Supreme Court.

The others contentious nominees are Edward Chen, Louis B. Butler Jr. and John J. McConnell Jr., all nominated to become U.S. District Court judges.
McConnell has been a frequent subject of posts here.  His nomination to the District Court in Rhode Island has met with unprecedented opposition from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which never before has opposed a nominee to a District Court, because of McConnell's mass tort background, which included a failed lead paint litigation in Rhode Island.

McConnell also has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democrats, calling into question whether his nomination created a appearance of the judgeship being bought.

I agree with a commenter at the Senatus post, that current proposals for filibuster reform in the Senate may be motivated not only by the desire to get these nominees through the Senate, but also upcoming Obama Supreme Court nominees.  Other than such confirmation proceedings (and Treaty ratification) it  is hard to see how weakening the filibuster helps Democrats since Republicans control the House.

With a closer split in the Senate, it remains to be seen whether filibuster reform will make a difference for these nominees.

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