The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to consider Wednesday the nomination for the longest vacancy in the federal judiciary — the Wisconsin seat on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Michael Brennan, former Wisconsin state court judge and ally of Gov. Scott Walker, is scheduled to appear before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary at 10 a.m. His nomination is controversial because he did not get a recommendation from the bipartisan Wisconsin Federal Nominating Commission and was interviewed by the White House for the vacancy before he submitted his application to the commission.
Also, Brennan is appearing before the Judiciary Committee after committee chair Sen. Charles Grassley sidestepped the long-standing blue-slip process which called for both home state senators having to approve of the nominee before a hearing is scheduled. Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin has withheld her blue slip.
The Alliance for Justice called the hearing for Brennan a “slap in the face,” faulting the committee for abandoning the blue-slip rule. “…this GOP-led Senate will not respect its members, its rules, its traditions or anything that gets in the way of ramrodding through the agenda of Donald Trump.”
The committee adhered to blue-slip requirement in considering the 2016 nomination of Donald Schott to Wisconsin’s seat on the 7th Circuit.
Schott, partner at Quarles & Brady, was recommended by the nominating commission and selected by President Barack Obama for the appellate court. He also received the blue slips from both Baldwin and Johnson and garnered a 13-7 vote from the judiciary committee but was never given a vote by the full senate.
According to the rules of the nominating commission, an applicant for a federal vacancy must secure at least five votes from the six-member body in order to get the commission’s recommendation. Brennan got four votes.
Brennan, a partner at Gass Weber Mullins LLC in Milwaukee, served eight years as a judge on the Milwaukee Circuit Court and was an assistant district attorney in the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office. He holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame and earned a J.D. degree from Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law.