As the Federal Circuit now sits with only 9 active judges and 3 current vacancies, Judge Kathleen O’Malley will finally get a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday afternoon.
Appointments to the Federal Circuit are rarely contentious, but it seems to take the Senate a long time to get around to acting on the nominations. Judge O’Malley was nominated by President Obama on March 10 to replace Judge Alvin Schall who took senior status October 5, 2009. Meanwhile, Edward DuMont was nominated on April 14 and has yet to have his hearing date scheduled. He was nominated to replace Chief Judge Michel who retired May 31, 2010.
It could take several weeks or months after Judge O’Malley’s hearing before the Senate gets around to voting on her confirmation. Meanwhile, more judges on the Federal Circuit continue to retire or take senior status. We’re still awaiting a nomination to replace the latest, Judge Mayer who took senior status on June 30.
Judge O’Malley sailed through her hearing on July 28 with few senators even asking her questions. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) used the forum as an opportunity to decry the delays that nominees face between the time reported by the Judiciary Committee and getting a vote on the Senate floor.
The next step for Judge O’Malley is getting a vote by the full committee.