On Thursday, April 7, the Senate Judiciary Committee moved forward the nomination of J. Paul Oetken, who was nominated for a judgeship in the Southern District of New York by President Barack Obama in January.
A spokesperson for the judiciary committee, Erica Chabot, said the nomination, along with three other district court nominees, will be “referred to the full Senate, where they will join the 12 other pending nominations.”
The district court nominees – who included Paul A. Engelmayer, Esther Salas and Ramona V. Manglona – were approved by a voice vote in a hearing that largely focused on the nomination of Goodwin Liu, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law (Boalt Hall), for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
The committee, chaired by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), held confirmation hearings on March 16 on the four district court nominees. The hearings were led by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), however, and attended by only Schumer and freshman Delaware Sen. Chris Coons (D).
Another of Obama’s judicial nominees, Edward C. DuMont, has not seen such quick movement. His nomination did not progress in the 111th Congress, despite having been nominated initially in April 2010. Obama renominated DuMont, also an out gay attorney, at the start of the 112th Congress, three weeks before Oetken’s nomination on Jan. 26, yet his nomination has still not yet received a hearing.
On April 7, asked why the DuMont nomination had not progressed, Chabot said, “We are working with the committee Republicans to review the paperwork” so that both sides are comfortable scheduling a hearing.
She explained, “We try to work with committee Republicans” to reach agreement on scheduling nominations for hearings and committee votes, “and we are trying to do that with the DuMont nomination.”
Pressed for more information about why the nomination has not moved forward, she added, “Sen. Leahy and the other Democrats have been ready to move forward on the nomination since last year.”
This past week, Obama nominated a third out LGBT judge, Alison Nathan, also for the same Southern District of New York court to which Oetken has been nominated.