The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

May 21, 2012
U.S. Senate finally confirms another delayed federal judge
The political theater that is the state of federal judicial nominations had another act today.

Senate Republicans finally relented and allowed an up-or-down vote on Paul Watford, a Los Angeles attorney and former prosecutor nominated by President Barack Obama for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco.

Watford was confirmed on a 61-34 vote and becomes the second African American on the circuit court.

Democrats and their supporters praised the confirmation, but also blasted the GOP for the delay.

"It is great news that the Senate has confirmed Paul Watford, an exceptionally talented attorney, to serve on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. He has a breadth of experience as a former prosecutor and a top appellate litigator and will make an excellent addition to the federal bench. However, I am very disappointed that more of my Republican colleagues did not join us in backing this highly qualified nominee," Sen. Barbara Boxer of California said in a statement.

It took also took months for Senate confirmation votes for Jacqueline Nguyen of Los Angeles, the first Vietnamese-American woman to be a federal judge, for the 9th Circuit and Michael Fitzgerald of Los Angeles, the state's first openly gay federal judge, for the Central District of California.

That still leaves Andrew Hurwitz, an Arizona Supreme Court justice nominated for the 9th Circuit, among qualified nominees who won bipartisan support in the Senate Judiciary Committee but have been left twisting in the wind.

As The Bee editorial board commented in March, Republicans have used the president's judicial nominees as pawns in their political chess match even though these courts are overburdened and plaintiffs and victims are forced to wait for justice. 

Watford will fill one of three emergency vacancies on the 9th Circuit, the busiest in the country. 

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About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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