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Senators postpone votes on Hoosier nominees

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Thanks in part to the high-profile health-care summit today, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee postponed votes this morning on three Indiana judicial nominees and a Bloomington law professor being considered for a key Department of Justice spot.

At an executive business meeting starting at 10 a.m., the committee chair pointed out that several members were absent because of President Barack Obama's health-care summit that started at the same time. As a result, the Republican members asked that debate and votes be postponed on Jon DeGuilio for the Northern District of Indiana, and U.S. Magistrate Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson and Marion Superior Judge Tanya Walton Pratt for the Southern District of Indiana. Also postponed for later action was the nomination of Dawn Johnsen, who's been chosen to lead the DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel.

While the committee had enough members to conduct business and vote, the GOP ranking member Sen. Jeff Sessions from Alabama asked that more time be given to allow the senators attending the summit to be present to discuss the pending nominations before casting a vote.

"This is such an extraordinary circumstance, I'll accommodate that request," said committee chair Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt. "The president has asked for bipartisan support (on health care), and I hope we can also have bipartisan cooperation here."

The judges were first nominated in January and the committee brought the trio to Washington, D.C., on Feb. 11 for a hearing to field questions. That was before a weeklong President's Day break, which ended this week and gave the committee its first chance to consider each nominee for an up or down vote. Procedurally, members can automatically hold over any nomination for a week.

For Johnsen, this is the latest in a line of delays in her confirmation process that first began in February 2009, when the president nominated her for the seat. Republican committee members opposed her nomination and delayed a vote until March 2009, but conservative opposition continued and Johnsen never received a vote before the full Senate. Her nomination died at the end of the year, and the president re-nominated her in January. During the past month, a combination of factors - Republicans wanting more time, or not attending a meeting to prevent a quorum - has delayed action even longer. This was the fourth delay on Johnsen's nomination this year.

Committee staff members expect the judicial nominees and Johnsen to be placed on the Senate Judiciary's agenda for next week to consider whether to forward the nominees to the full Senate. No timeline exists for either the Judiciary or Senate votes in the confirmation process.

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  1. Major social engineering imposed by judicial order well in advance of democratic change, has been the story of the whole post ww2 period. Contraception, desegregation, abortion, gay marriage: all rammed down the throats of Americans who didn't vote to change existing laws on any such thing, by the unelected lifetime tenure Supreme court heirarchs. Maybe people came to accept those things once imposed upon them, but, that's accommodation not acceptance; and surely not democracy. So let's quit lying to the kids telling them this is a democracy. Some sort of oligarchy, but no democracy that's for sure, and it never was. A bourgeois republic from day one.

  2. JD Massur, yes, brings to mind a similar stand at a Texas Mission in 1836. Or Vladivostok in 1918. As you seemingly gloat, to the victors go the spoils ... let the looting begin, right?

  3. I always wondered why high fence deer hunting was frowned upon? I guess you need to keep the population steady. If you don't, no one can enjoy hunting! Thanks for the post! Fence

  4. Whether you support "gay marriage" or not is not the issue. The issue is whether the SCOTUS can extract from an unmentionable somewhere the notion that the Constitution forbids government "interference" in the "right" to marry. Just imagine time-traveling to Philadelphia in 1787. Ask James Madison if the document he and his fellows just wrote allowed him- or forbade government to "interfere" with- his "right" to marry George Washington? He would have immediately- and justly- summoned the Sergeant-at-Arms to throw your sorry self out into the street. Far from being a day of liberation, this is a day of capitulation by the Rule of Law to the Rule of What's Happening Now.

  5. With today's ruling, AG Zoeller's arguments in the cases of Obamacare and Same-sex Marriage can be relegated to the ash heap of history. 0-fer

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