Women’s History Month, Federal Bench Edition: Part II

A few weeks ago, in honor of Women’s History Month, I wrote about women on the federal bench and noted that women’s representation on our federal courts could get an additional boost if the 13 pending female nominees to district and appellate courts were confirmed. Clearly, I spoke too soon.
Judges GavelSince that post, five additional women have been nominated to federal judgeships – Rebecca Haywood, to a Pennsylvania seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Karen Scholer, to the Eastern District of Texas, Kathleen Sweet, to the Western District of New York, Irma Ramirez, to the Northern District of Texas, and Lisabeth Hughes, to a Kentucky-based seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. If confirmed, Rebecca Haywood, who has served as a federal prosecutor for over a dozen years, would be the first African-American woman to sit on the Third Circuit, and Lisabeth Hughes, who currently serves as a justice on the Kentucky supreme court, would be the first woman from Kentucky to serve on the Sixth Circuit. So the potential to increase women’s representation on the federal bench is even greater, as we approach the end of March.
One thing hasn’t changed, unfortunately, and that is the persistent obstruction by Senate Republicans of nominees to the federal courts. Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania urged President Obama to withdraw the nomination of Rebecca Haywood, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that he would not support action on the nomination of Lisabeth Hughes. When added to the chorus of Republican voices refusing meetings, hearings, or votes on the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, or the refusal of Senate Judiciary Committee leadership to hold hearings or votes on lower court nominees, these statements sound drearily familiar.
It’s unfortunate that, rather than make history, these Senators appear determined to end up on the wrong side of it. Senators, #DoYourJob.