WASHINGTON – After months of unnecessary delays, the Senate has finally begun to confirm nominees to federal courts, some of which have been classified as facing judicial emergencies of backlogged cases across the nation. Hispanics for a Fair Judiciary (HFJ) welcomes today’s confirmation of William Martinez and Albert Diaz on Saturday, and today urged Senate Republicans who have held up the confirmation process of Mary Murguia, Goodwin Liu, Diana Saldana, Edward Davila, and dozens of other qualified nominees, to take the issue of our federal judiciary seriously and remove the obstacles to additional confirmations. A vast majority of the nominees have received bipartisan support from the Senate Judiciary Committee and have waited too long. Each nominee must be allowed an up-or-down vote before the end of the year.
The Administrative Office of U.S. Courts declared that 50 judgeships had backlogs of cases reaching emergency proportions. Confirming Albert Diaz, William Martinez and other nominees in recent days is progress, but still only a drop in the bucket toward filling judicial vacancies. Ugly partisan politics has halted Senate business for months and our judicial system has become an unacceptable victim. As of yesterday, the Senate had confirmed just 41 circuit and district court nominees in the Obama adminstration's first two years, whereas President George W. Bush saw 100 of his nominees confirmed in the first two years of his presidency. Among Obama's pending nominees, over half would fill judicial emergency slots. Their confirmation would contribute immensely to the quality and diversity of the federal bench--in fact, over three quarters of the pending nominees are women or people of color.
Mary Murguia has a long and distinguished career of public service. She began her career in the district attorney's office in Kansas City, then from 1990-2000 she served as Assistant United States Attorney in the District of Arizona. In 2000, President Clinton appointed her U.S. District Judge in Arizona, where she has served since. She was nominated to sit on the United States Ninth Circuit Court on March 25 and approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee in August. Since her nomination, the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts has declared four of the Ninth Circuit vacancies as judicial emergencies, and hundreds of filings have piled up. She still awaits a confirmation vote by the full Senate, after receiving unanimous bipartisan approval from the Senate Judiciary Committee.
This summer President Obama nominated Diana Saldana to fill a District Court vacancy in the Southern District of Texas. Saldana has a long history of service to that court. After law school she was a clerk to Judge George Katzen of the Southern District of Texas and from 2001-2006 she served as Assistant United States Attorney to the same district. Saldana was unanimously deemed well qualified by the ABA and was approved without objection by the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this month.
Judge Edward J. Davila has served since 2001 on the Superior Court of California. Before become a judge, Davila spent two decades as a trial lawyer, a career that began as a public defender in Santa Clara. This May President Obama appointed Judge Davila to the Northern California U.S. District Court. He was also approved without objection by the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this month and awaits confirmation from the full Senate.
Goodwin Liu was nominated nearly 10 months ago on February 24 by President Barack Obama to serve on the Ninth Circuit Court of the United States to fill a seat that has been vacant over 675 days. Rated unanimously well qualified by the American Bar Association, Liu is a law professor at University of California, Berkeley and a renowned expert on constitutional and education law. Shortly after being nominated, Liu was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, the final step before confirmation by the full Senate. However, Liu has spent more than six months awaiting an up-or-down vote.
Hispanics for a Fair Judiciary (HFJ) was formed in April 2005 in order to provide Hispanic leaders across the nation a platform and voice in matters related to our nation's judicial system. HFJ is an unaffiliated, non-partisan, independent network of elected officials, legal, civil rights, labor, academic and political leaders who care deeply about the impact that the Supreme Court has on the Latino community.