Nashville attorney Jane Stranch is finally on course to take the seat on the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to which President Barack Obama nominated her a year ago today.
Legal Times reported yesterday that the Senate has set a vote on Stranch's nomination for September 13, its first day back from a recess that began last night. The publication said Republican and Democratic senators had reached a deal to unblock a number of non-controversial judicial nominations.
In a Rose Garden appearance on July 27, Obama called on the Senate to confirm nominees who, like Stranch, had been waiting on approval for a long time. The president's statement came a week after an unusual encounter on the Senate floor between Tennessee Republican Lamar Alexander and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Alexander backed a bid to bring the nomination to a vote on July 20, but McConnell blocked it on the grounds that "there were some 'no' votes on the nominee in committee."
Obama stated that during a bipartisan White House meeting, he had "urged Senator McConnell and others in the Senate to work with us to fill the vacancies that continue to plague our judiciary." The president said that in the cases of many nominees, "both Democrats and Republicans agreed that they were qualified to serve" but that "nevertheless, some in the minority have used parliamentary procedures time and again to deny them a vote in the full Senate.
"If we want our judicial system to work — if we want to deliver justice in our courts — then we need judges on our benches," Obama said.
Obama nominated Stranch, a partner at Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings PLLC specializing in labor and employment law, on August 6, 2009. He had previously consulted with Alexander and the state's junior senator, Republican Bob Corker, both of whom supported the choice.
Stranch would replace Sixth Circuit jurist Martha Craig Daughtrey of Nashville, who retired at the beginning of 2009. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved her nomination on November 19, 2009 by a vote of 15-4, but it has languished ever since, becoming the longest-pending appeals court nomination of the Obama administration.
The September vote is widely expected to go in favor of Stranch, given her support across parties in the Senate.
[Update, 1:42 p.m. Friday:]
Jim Jeffries, press secretary to Alexander, issued the following statement this afternoon:
"Sen. Alexander spoke on the Senate floor in support of scheduling a final vote on Jane Stranch’s nomination, and reached out to senators from both parties as well. He’s pleased that a bipartisan agreement was worked out to debate and vote on her nomination in September."