Judge Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s nominee to succeed the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court, is one of only dozens of Obama judicial nominees not long for the Senate floor.
There are currently 95 vacancies in the federal judiciary — one on the Supreme Court, 13 in the appeals courts and 81 in the district courts. Obama put forward 52 nominees for these posts, and approximately half of them have already won approval from the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.
Though many of these nominations are likely to lapse with the adjournment of Congress, a handful could be confirmed in the coming lame duck session. Generally speaking, nominations for district court vacancies are less likely to engender controversy. The president makes nominations to these courts in consultation with the senators representing the state where the vacancy exists. Because the process is predicated on consensus, and given the general air of bipartisan cooperation which attends a transition, a number of district court nominees have a realistic shot at confirmation. (RELATED: Supreme Court Will Hear Transgender Bathroom Case)
“I am cautiously optimistic that a number of Obama nominees will be confirmed,” University of Richmond School of Law professor Carl Tobias, an expert on federal judicial selection, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “20 well qualified, mainstream district nominations are on floor whom the Senate Judiciary Committee approved without dissent, and most were recommended by GOP senators. Examples are in Tennessee, Oklahoma, Idaho and Utah.”
These nominees include Ronald Russell, an attorney in private practice nominated to the federal district court in Utah; Judge Suzanne Mitchell, a federal magistrate judge nominated to the western district court in Oklahoma; and Judge David Nye, a state judge nomination to the federal district court in Idaho.
Garland himself is likely to resume his duties on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in short order. While his nomination is pending, Garland is recusing himself from participation in cases before the court.
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