By unanimous vote of 92 to zero, the U.S. Senate has confirmed a new federal judge for Southern California. The bench for the L.A. area is now fully staffed, but that’s not the case elsewhere in the state.
The confirmation means Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell will leave the L.A. Superior Court for the federal bench. University of Richmond Law Professor Carl Tobias says it’s a "great addition" to the court. He says Judge O’Connell is highly regarded in California. She created a program that brings inner city students to the courthouse to talk to judges and lawyers.
Her confirmation means the Central District, which serves the greater L.A. area, is fully staffed with 28 judges.
That isn't the case for the rest of the country, or for California. Tobias says then state still has five vacancies on the federal bench; other border states have even more.
Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont said while he's "glad that we are being allowed to fill one of the 86 judicial vacancies around the country, I wish we were allowed to make more progress more quickly." Leahy blames his GOP counterparts for dragging their feet on judicial nominations. "It is really incomprehensible," he said, "that so many judgeships were forced to remain vacant for so long when there was no actual opposition to these consensus nominees."
Senator Dianne Feinstein wants to add even more federal judges in the west. But as the Senate drags its feet confirming appointments for judicial posts that are already funded, Tobias says it’s unlikely new positions will be added.