This afternoon, the Senate confirmed Judge David Nuffer to a seat on the United States District Court for the District of Utah, and Ronnie Abrams to a seat on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, both by overwhelmingly bipartisan votes of 96-2. Additionally, Rudolph Contreras was confirmed to a seat on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia by an unopposed voice vote.
Nuffer, who since 2003 has been serving full time as a United States Magistrate Judge for the District of Utah, was nominated to the District Court on June 29, 2011. On October 13, 2011, the Senate Judiciary Committee reported his nomination to the full Senate on a unanimous voice vote. Utah’s junior senator, Mike Lee, expressed no opposition to Nuffer’s nomination during the judiciary committee’s deliberation or committee vote. Lee nonetheless continued his political campaign against President Obama by voting against his home state’s judge on the Senate floor.
Nuffer waited 162 days following his committee vote for the full Senate to consider his nomination; 268 days have passed since he was nominated to fill the seat, which had been declared a “judicial emergency.”
Abrams, who has served as Special Counsel for Pro Bono at Davis Polk & Wardwell since 2008, was nominated on July 28, 2011. Abrams was reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee by a unanimous voice vote on November 3, 2011, but was still forced to wait 141 more days for the Senate to confirm her; her wait time from nomination to confirmation was 239 days.
Contreras, who has served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the past seventeen years, was nominated on July 28, 2011 and reported out of committee on November 3, 2011 on a voice vote without opposition. Like Abrams, he had to wait 141 days for the Senate to vote on his confirmation, and 239 days passed from the time he was first nominated.
The votes took place as part of a Senate deal to hold confirmation votes on 14 judicial nominees by May 7. Notwithstanding the current trickle of confirmation votes, the Senate is still far behind the pace it needs to maintain to address the 98 current and future vacancies on the federal bench, vacancies that stand in the way of everyday Americans being able to access justice through our federal courts.
For the most up-to-date information on judicial vacancies and nominations, see the Alliance for Justice Judicial Selection Project webpage.