Another California judicial nominee waiting for full Senate approval

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The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the nominations of a judge from Azusa and the California brother of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer today. Both men will wait a long time to take on the new jobs.

It was smooth sailing for Fernando Olguin, a magistrate judge from Azusa nominated to the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. The Senate Judiciary Committee sent on the former federal civil rights attorney’s nomination for a full Senate vote. But University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias says the more difficult piece is how long he’ll have to wait on the floor. Tobias says nearly two dozen judicial nominees await floor votes.

In an apparent agreement with the Republican minority individual votes will be spaced out, with a floor vote on a single nominee occurring each week. Congress is expected to work through the end of the year for a lame duck session, so Tobias says it’s possible that people who don’t get a vote before the election could still could get one afterwards "if the President is reelected." If not, candidates would have to be re-nominated in a new Congress. Professor Tobias says there's currently about a 10 percent vacancy rate on the federal bench. Fewer judges mean a backlog of cases.

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein praised Olguin at his confirmation hearing, calling him "a thoughtful and respected" magistrate judge able to "hit the ground running on the Federal District Court, which has the sixth-highest civil caseload in the nation.”

The Judiciary Committee also approved the nomination of Charles Breyer to the US Sentencing Commission. The brother of the U.S. Supreme Court justice is currently a federal judge in San Francisco.