Political Stalemate Ends With Nomination of Five Judges to Federal Bench

, Daily Business Review


The so-called nuclear option exercised by U.S. Senate Democrats to compel action on nominations by President Barack Obama shows signs of working on federal judicial selections.

Nassau Circuit Judge Brian J. Davis was confirmed Friday to the federal bench in the Middle District of Florida, and a slate of five nominations was filed Thursday to fill vacancies on the Georgia federal bench.

Davis, who was nominated in February 2012, was endorsed on a 68-26 vote with six senators not voting.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., voted for confirmation even though he withheld a blue slip for months under a procedure that bars the full Senate from considering nominees. He withdrew his pocket veto in September after the legal community and civil rights groups questioned his holds on two black judicial nominees.

Rubio still opposes the nomination of Miami-Dade Circuit Judge William Thomas, who is black and openly gay.

In the slate of Georgia nominations, U.S. District Judge Julie E. Carnes was proposed for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, an Atlanta-based court that hears cases from Georgia, Florida and Alabama.

The announcement was part of a five-judge deal reached in September that broke a long-running political stalemate between the Obama administration and Georgia's two Republican U.S. senators.

Carnes has served as a federal judge in Georgia since 1992 after she was nominated by President George H.W. Bush and has been the chief judge of the Northern District of Georgia since 2009.

She was an Atlanta federal prosecutor from 1978 to 1990 and headed the appellate criminal division in the U.S. attorney's office from 1987 to 1989.

Her background includes expertise in federal sentencing. She was a member of the U.S. attorney general's advisory committee on sentencing guidelines from 1988 to 1990, special counsel to the U.S. Sentencing Commission in 1989 and a member of the commission from 1990 to 1996.

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