President Obama renamed on Thursday four openly gay federal judicial nominees that the U.S. Senate had yet to confirm before adjourning earlier this week at the end of the previous Congress.
The four nominees were named as part of a package of 33 nominees that didn’t receive confirmation before the clock ran out at the end of last year.
In a statement, President Obama urged the Senate to confirm all 33 of the nominees and took a jab at the Senate by saying many of these appointments “should have been confirmed before the Senate adjourned.”
“Several have been awaiting a vote for more than six months, even though they all enjoy bipartisan support,” Obama said. “I continue to be grateful for their willingness to serve and remain confident that they will apply the law with the utmost impartiality and integrity. I urge the Senate to consider and confirm these nominees without delay, so all Americans can have equal and timely access to justice.”
Each of the four were first nominated by Obama to positions on the bench in the latter half of last year. Once again, they’re pending before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The nominees are:
• Pamela Ki Mai Chen, a U.S. attorney whom Obama has nominated for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York;
• Michael J. McShane, a Multnomah County Circuit judge whom Obama nominated for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon;
• Nitza I. Quiñones Alejandro, a Philadelphia County Court judge whom Obama nominated for a seat on the the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania;
• and William Thomas, a Florida circuit judge whom Obama nominated for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
The only one of these nominees on which the Senate took action last year was Chen, who received both a confirmation hearing and a committee vote. However, the full Senate never took action on her nomination. It’s unclear whether Chen will need another confirmation hearing for her nomination to proceed in the 113th Congress because it’ll be a matter of finding an agreement between Democrats and Republicans on the committee.
Michael Cole-Schwartz, a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, urged confirmation of these nominees on the basis of creating a more diversified federal judiciary.
“It is important that our nation’s judiciary reflect the makeup of our country,” Cole-Schwartz said. “Because the President’s nominees are well qualified and have reflected this principle, our courts have become more diverse over the last four years. No community should feel excluded from any part of our system of government and confirmation of these nominees will create a more inclusive judiciary.