On December 19, 2013, President Barack ObamaBarack ObamaDem senator: Trump's 'icky' Boy Scout speech left 'my stomach in knots' Boos for Obama as Trump speaks at Boy Scout jamboree Feehery: Winning August MORE nominated Magistrate Judge Hannah Lauck to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The next day, as the Senate raced to recess, one Republican senator objected to holding Lauck and 54 other well-qualified judicial nominees over until Congress' second session, which began on January 6. Because Judge Lauck is a highly qualified, consensus nominee, the president renominated her that day, while the Senate must expeditiously process her nomination. The first critical step is Tuesday's confirmation hearing.

The Eastern District opening will arise next month when Judge James Spencer assumes senior status after 27 years of dedicated service on the court, whose reputation for promptly resolving cases has earned it the moniker "Rocket Docket." Judge Spencer announced his intention to assume senior status last April, granting the chief executive ample time for nominating his successor.

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Virginia Democratic Sens. Mark WarnerMark WarnerKushner says he did not collude with Russia, had no improper contacts Dems to unveil ‘better deal’ messaging campaign Monday Talk of Trump pardons reverberates on Sunday shows MORE and Tim KaineTim KaineSenate Dems launch talkathon ahead of ObamaCare repeal vote 40 million fewer people expected to vote in 2018, study finds Al Gore warns Democrats about accusing Trump of treason MORE then quickly instituted efforts to recommend talented candidates. They requested that numerous Virginia bar groups swiftly evaluate 12 applicants and rate their qualifications. The entities interviewed the candidates and most strongly suggested five very qualified individuals - Judge Lauck, Richmond Circuit Court Judge Clarence Jenkins and lawyers Alan Albert, Dabney Carr IV and Collin Hite. The senators in turn recommended Judges Lauck and Jenkins to Obama in August.

Judge Lauck is smart, industrious, ethical and independent and has balanced temperament, while she earned the highest American Bar Association rating : well qualified. Judge Lauck is a very experienced Magistrate Judge whom the Eastern District Judges first appointed to an eight year term in 2005 and reappointed last year. Before ascending to the bench, Lauck served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for a decade. She also clerked for Judge Spencer as her first employment after graduating from Yale Law School.  If confirmed, Lauck would be the first female Article III Judge in the Richmond Division.

There are several reasons why the Senate must promptly consider Lauck. First, Judge Spencer will assume senior status in late March and it would be preferable to have his seat filled before then. The opening on the Eastern District, one of America's busiest courts, will concomitantly require that Judge Spencer carry a substantial caseload, even though most judges who assume senior status are responsible for considerably fewer cases. Judge Spencer will graciously pitch in to help his Eastern District colleagues guarantee that the court continues to deliver justice. However, the partisan squabbling that has left many vacancies open is not fair to a dedicated public servant who has earned the right to assume senior status.

Warner and Kaine urged Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick LeahySenate committee ignores Trump, House budgets in favor of 2017 funding levels Live coverage: Trump's FBI nominee questioned by senators AT&T, senators spar over customers' right to sue MORE (D.-Vt.), the Judiciary Committee Chair, to speedily conduct a hearing. After the hearing, they should ask Leahy to quickly set a committee vote and Sen. Harry ReidHarry ReidConservative Senate candidate calls on GOP to end filibuster Ex-Reid aide: McConnell's 'original sin' was casting ObamaCare as 'partisan, socialist takeover' GOP faces growing demographic nightmare in West MORE (D-Nev.), the Majority Leader, to rapidly schedule a floor debate and vote. If Sen. Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellMcCain returning to Senate in time for health vote Senate Dems launch talkathon ahead of ObamaCare repeal vote Overnight Healthcare: Trump pressures GOP ahead of vote | McConnell urges Senate to start debate | Cornyn floats conference on House, Senate bills | Thune sees progress on Medicaid MORE (R-Ky.), the Minority Leader, does not swiftly agree to vote, Reid should seek cloture.

Lauck's excellent record means that she warrants prompt approval, while her abilities will help the court maintain its well deserved reputation as the Rocket Docket.

Tobias is the Williams Chair in Law at the University of Richmond.