D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton on Friday praised the U.S. Senate for confirming seven judicial nominees to local D.C. courts.
Before Thursday’s confirmations, there were 14 vacancies out of 62 authorized judges in the D.C. Superior Court and two vacancies out of nine authorized judges in the D.C. Court of Appeals.
The confirmed Superior Court judges were Laura Crane, Veronica Sanchez, Carl Ross, Leslie Meek, Errol Arthur (magistrate judge), and Kendra Biggs and the court of appeals judge is Vijay Shankar.
“I thank Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Gary Peters for getting seven judicial nominees to the local D.C. courts confirmed last night,” she said. “However, the length of time it took to get them confirmed only reinforces the need for Congress to pass my bill that would eliminate the Senate confirmation requirement for local D.C. judges. The perpetual judicial vacancy crisis in the local D.C. courts harms public safety and access to justice. It is untenable.”
In the District, the president selects local judges with the aid of the D.C. Judicial Nomination Commission. The president selects a nominee from one of the three candidates submitted by the commission.
The Senate must confirm those nominees. If the president doesn’t pick one of the appointed candidates within 60 days, the commission is mandated to appoint one of the candidates, subject to Senate confirmation.
In the past, local judges have been subject to the whims of both political parties in the Senate. Norton has a bill — the District of Columbia Courts Vacancy Act — that would eliminate the Senate confirmation requirement for local District judges.
Plus, the bill would allow judicial appointments to the local courts to undergo a 30-day congressional review period, unless a joint resolution disapproving an appointment is enacted into law during that period. Norton’s proposed process is similar to the one used by Congress to ratify District legislation.
Norton’s bill passed the House Committee on Oversight and Reform last year.