TN judicial nominees caught in U.S. Senate logjam

Confirmation votes to fill three judicial vacancies in Tennessee are stuck in a partisan logjam, even though the White House and the state’s Republican senators agree on who should fill the seats, reports The Tennessean.

Senate confirmation of federal judges has slowed, with only six confirmed so far in 2015. Democrats accuse Republicans of blocking President Barack Obama’s choices for lifetime judicial appointments, saying Obama has only 14 months remaining in his term and GOP lawmakers hope the next president will be Republican.

…Eight nominees, including two from Tennessee, have cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee and are awaiting final votes by the full Senate.

Waverly Crenshaw Jr. of Nashville was approved by the committee in July for a U.S. District Court seat in the Middle District of Tennessee. Because of the high caseload in the Nashville courthouse, the Administrative Office of the Courts considers that seat a “judicial emergency.”

…Travis Randall McDonough of Chattanooga was approved by the committee at the same time for a district court seat in Tennessee’s Eastern District.

And on Wednesday, Edward Stanton III of Memphis testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about his nomination to a judgeship in the Western District. Assuming the committee approves, his nomination would then move to the Senate floor.

Corker said he believes Crenshaw and McDonough will be confirmed by the end of the year. He denied GOP lawmakers are engineering a slowdown.

“There is a logjam, but there is no problem, nobody holding them up,” Corker said.

Alexander said all three Tennessee nominees are well qualified.

“We’ll do everything we can to urge the Senate to confirm them this year, if possible,” Alexander said. “These three aren’t controversial so I see no reason why they shouldn’t move through.”

Since Jan. 1, judicial vacancies nationally have increased by 24, from 43 to 67, according to the Alliance for Justice, a left-leaning organization that tracks judicial confirmations. Some vacancies in other states have been pending for two years with no one nominated, and some nominees have been waiting six months for a hearing.