It may be a political year with the presidential race capturing most of the attention - but let's not forget about the very important issue of judicial nominees. Unfortunately, some very well qualified nominees still remain in limbo - the nominations languishing without any action in the Senate.
At the American Center for Law and Justice, we continue to push for Senate action - an up-or-down vote on these nominees. The Senate has a constitutional obligation to do just that - and there are several nominees who deserve action now.
Peter D. Keisler was nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia nearly 600 days ago. He's a well-respected attorney and senior official in the Department of Justice who
possesses extensive trial and appellate litigation experience in a broad range of issues. Keisler has argued before the Supreme Court and numerous federal courts of appeal. He recently served at the highest level of the Justice Department as Acting Attorney General following the resignation of Alberto Gonzales.
You can read more about the qualifications of Keisler here.
Robert J. Conrad, Jr. was nominated to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. He was first nominated to his current seat on the North Carolina district court by President Bush in April 2003. He was unanimously confirmed by the Senate in April 2005, and received his commission in June 2005. He has served as Chief Judge of the Western District of North Carolina since 2006. Chief Judge Conrad is a judicial nominee with stellar legal experience and strength of character. He's received the highest rating from the American Bar Association. And, the seat for which he has been nominated has been vacant for more than a decade.
You can read more about the qualifications of Judge Conrad here.
Steve A. Matthews has been nominated to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Matthews currently serves as the managing director for the private South Carolina-based law firm, Haynesworth Sinkler Boyd. Even a cursory look at his rsum demonstrates that he has accomplished much in his legal career and is well-qualified to fill the position for which he has been nominated. Matthews earned a bachelor of arts in history in 1977 from the University of South Carolina where he graduated magna cum laude. He subsequently attended Yale Law School, earning his juris doctor in 1980. Immediately following law school, Matthews practiced corporate law for five years before joining the United States Department of Justice under the Reagan Administration, advising both President Reagan and then-Attorney General Edwin Meese on the selection of judicial appointees as well as serving as special counsel to Attorney General Meese.
You can read more about the qualifications of Matthews here.
While the issue of judicial nominees is not a front-page story, it is still very much on the radar screen for many members of Congress including Senator Arlen Specter, a powerful member of the Senate Judiciary Committee which considers these nominations.
Senator Specter summed up the issue quite clearly in a recent opinion editorial in the Wall Street Journal.
Noting that the Senate is behind the number of nominations considered under the Clinton Administration, Senator Specter wrote:
"In 2007 (President Bush's second-to-last year in office), the Senate confirmed six circuit court nominees, nearly matching the seven nominees confirmed in President Clinton's second-to-last year in office. This is a fair start to the 110th Congress, but the Senate is still lagging behind in confirming circuit court nominees.
In President Clinton's final two years in office, the Senate confirmed 15 circuit court nominees; thus, much work remains to be done. There are currently 14 circuit court vacancies, with a nominee pending for nearly all of the seats. The Senate must confirm nine more circuit court nominees this year to keep pace with President Clinton's confirmations during his final two years in office."
And, Senator Specter called on his colleagues in the Senate to put differences aside and move forward in giving these nominees the consideration they deserve.
In Senator Specter's words:
"One of the most important responsibilities granted to the United States Senate by the Constitution is the confirmation of judicial nominees. It is also one of the areas that has been, for too long, infected by precisely the kind of partisan bickering that Americans are so clearly rejecting. It is time for us to call a truce in the partisan grudge match that has done such a disservice to judicial nominees, to the legal system, and to the Senate itself."
We agree. We'll keep you posted on this very important issue. Stay informed through our website and our daily radio broadcast, Jay Sekulow Live!