On December 19, 2013, President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaReport: FCC chair to push for complete repeal of net neutrality Right way and wrong way Keystone XL pipeline clears major hurdle despite recent leak 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.

Virginia Democratic Sens. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerTech beefs up lobbying amid Russia scrutiny Overnight Tech: Senate Dems want FCC chief recused from Sinclair merger | Tech rallies on Capitol Hill for DACA | Facebook beefs up lobbying ranks Facebook adds two lobbyists amid Russia probe MORE and Tim KaineTimothy Michael KaineBooker tries to find the right lane  Democrats scramble to contain Franken fallout  GOP campaign committees call on Democrats to return Franken donations 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 Joseph LeahyLawmakers, celebs honor Tony Bennett with Library of Congress Gershwin Prize Dem senator jokes: 'Moment of weakness' led me to share photo comparing Trump, Obama Leahy presses Trump court nominee over LGBTQ tweets 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 ReidVirginia was a wave election, but without real change, the tide will turn again Top Lobbyists 2017: Grass roots Boehner confronted Reid after criticism from Senate floor MORE (D-Nev.), the Majority Leader, to rapidly schedule a floor debate and vote. If Sen. Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellAlabama election has GOP racing against the clock McConnell PAC demands Moore return its money Klobuchar taking over Franken's sexual assault bill 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.