Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s death has not only touched off a political brawl over who should name his successor, it also could complicate the confirmation of two Tennesseans nominated to become federal judges, reports the News Sentinel.
A year ago this month, President Barack Obama nominated Nashville attorney Waverly Crenshaw Jr. for a federal judgeship in Tennessee’s Middle District. U.S. Attorney Edward Stanton III of Memphis was nominated last May to become a federal judge in the state’s Western District.
Both nominees have won the approval of the Senate Judiciary Committee and have been waiting for months for the full Senate to schedule a vote on their confirmation.
But the fight brewing over Scalia’s successor could delay a vote on all pending nominations, including the two Tennesseans, said Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law who closely tracks the judicial nominations process.
“Often, just everything else shuts down while a Supreme Court nominee is in the process,” Tobias said. “It doesn’t have to, and there’s no reason for it, especially with (nominees) on the floor. But I think it will be another excuse that could be used by the Republicans.”
Senate Democrats have been complaining for months that Republicans have been dragging their feet on judicial nominees since the GOP regained majority control of the Senate a year ago. A report last fall by the liberal advocacy group Alliance for Justice charged that the pace of nominees confirmed by the new Republican-controlled Senate is the slowest in 60 years.
The Senate confirmed just 11 nominees in all of 2015, and five of those came toward the end of the year. One was Travis McDonough of Chattanooga, who was confirmed in December to a federal judgeship in Tennessee’s Eastern District after waiting for more than a year.