On Tuesday The Legal Intelligencer (subscription required) noted how Third Circuit nominee Judge L. Felipe Restrepo, currently a district court judge in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, has been waiting for a confirmation hearing since his nomination in November 2014.
Judge Restrepo was recommended for nomination by his two senators, Democrat Bob Casey and Republican Pat Toomey. The same was true back in 2012, when he was nominated to the district court and eventually confirmed by the full Senate with a voice vote.
This delay exacerbates an already pressing need for more judges in Pennsylvania. There are currently five federal judicial vacancies in Pennsylvania, including one on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, one in the Eastern District, and three in the Western District. Each of the district court vacancies has been empty for more than a year and does not even have a nominee. The Third Circuit vacancy, to which Restrepo was nominated, has been listed as a “judicial emergency” by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts—meaning the court does not have enough judges to handle its caseload. Adding to the problem, another Third Circuit seat in Pennsylvania is expected to open in July.
And yet, a spokesperson for Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-IA, told The Intelligencer that she “couldn’t even estimate” a timeframe for Restrepo’s confirmation hearing.
Judge Restrepo is an exceptional nominee who should be processed through committee and confirmed without further delay. Among his many impressive qualifications, Judge Restrepo would be the first Third Circuit judge with experience working as a public defender, adding much needed professional diversity to the federal bench.
- AFJ’s full report on Judge Restrepo’s background can be found here