Finally! Nearly Four Years Later, Senate Approves Judge For Alito's Vacated Spot

joseph greenaway

In a unanimous Senate vote yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Greenaway was promoted to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.

The seat was left vacant when Justice Samuel Alito headed to the Supreme Court in 2006.

The approval has been at the centre of a whole lot of political wrangling. New Jersey Democrats have denounced Republicans for dragging their feet despite what they call Greenaway’s clear qualifications for the position.

The Record: “It’s been a long process – unnecessarily long for a good man,” said [Senator Bob] Menendez, who noted Greenaway is just the 15th district or circuit court nominee of President Obama’s to be confirmed even though there are 100 vacancies on the federal bench.

One reason Alito’s seat has been vacant so long, however, is that then-President George W. Bush’s nominee to replace him had been blocked by [Senator Frank] Lautenberg and Menendez, and never came to a vote before Obama took office.

As Doug Kendall of Slate noted in his column on Friday, there are currently 102 vacancies on the federal bench, 31 of which count as “judicial emergencies,” or empty seats that have hampered a court’s ability to, you know, hear cases.

The current administration’s nominating record is dismal. After a year in office, President Bush nominated 89 judges to the lower federal courts; Obama has nominated 42 federal judges to date.

Slate: New obstructionist tactics by Senate Republicans are partially to blame. But Obama deserves some blame, too; the paucity of nominees made it hard to scream too loudly about the lack of confirmations. The Senate’s Republican leadership capitalised by making Majority Leader Harry Reid fight hard for every single confirmation vote for a judicial nominee, even when nominees ended up getting confirmed unanimously.

Judge Greenaway was praised by both sides of the aisle during his confirmation hearing. “It does appear you have a good record across the board,” Senator Jeff Sessions, a Republican form Alabama, had said.

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