ADVERTISEMENT
President Obama has aggressively sought advice from Republican and Democratic politicians where vacancies occurred before nominations. He has proposed nominees of balanced temperament, who are smart, ethical, hard working, independent and diverse vis-á-vis ethnicity, gender and ideology. Central District Judges Dolly Gee and Michael Fitzgerald are fine examples.

Senator Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyFBI has no excuse to hide future scandals from American public Live coverage: FBI chief, Justice IG testify on critical report Student rips DeVos at school safety commission for failure to take on guns MORE (D-Vt.), the Judiciary Committee chairman, has expeditiously conducted hearings and votes, moving nominees to the floor where numbers have languished for months. On September 22, the upper chamber recessed without considering 19 very qualified nominees having committee approval because the GOP would not vote.

Republicans must cooperate better. The primary bottleneck has been the floor. Senator Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellWarren on family separation policy: Trump is ‘taking America to a dark and ugly place’ Senate GOP tries to defuse Trump border crisis Schumer rejects GOP proposal to address border crisis MORE (R-Ky.), the minority leader, has infrequently agreed on ballots. Particularly troubling has been GOP unwillingness to consider excellent consensus nominees, inaction that violates chamber traditions. When the Senate has eventually voted, it easily confirmed many nominees, like Mark Walker, who won 4-0 approval last week.

The three Central District openings are critical. Obama has suggested three highly qualified nominees. He should continue working closely with Leahy and Senator Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidAmendments fuel resentments within Senate GOP Donald Trump is delivering on his promises and voters are noticing Danny Tarkanian wins Nevada GOP congressional primary MORE (D-Nev.), the majority leader, who arranges debates and floor votes, and their GOP counterparts to facilitate appointments.

Obama must also keep cooperating with California Democratic Senators Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinGOP senators introduce bill to prevent family separations at border Dem plays audio from child detention center on Senate floor 13 GOP senators ask administration to pause separation of immigrant families MORE and Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerThe ‘bang for the buck’ theory fueling Trump’s infrastructure plan Kamala Harris endorses Gavin Newsom for California governor Dems face hard choice for State of the Union response MORE. Both have established selection committees, which solicit applications, interview candidates and make suggestions to the legislators who correspondingly recommend prospects to the administration.

Those actions led Obama to nominate Central District Deputy Federal Public Defender Jesus Bernal on April 25, 2012, Central District Magistrate Judge Fernando Olguin on May 14 and Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell on November 14. Bernal served as Deputy Public Defender in the Los Angeles office for ten years and has since been the Directing Attorney of the Riverside office. He previously engaged in complex litigation for Los Angeles’ Heller, Ehrman law firm. Judge Olguin has been a Magistrate Judge since 2001. Judge O’Connell has served on the state bench since 2005, litigated civil cases at Morrison & Foerster for five years before that and earlier served as a Central District Assistant U.S. Attorney for a decade.

Senator Leahy swiftly arranged June hearings for the first two nominees at which Senators Feinstein and Boxer expressed their enthusiastic support. Senator Charles GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOn The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Markets roiled by Trump's new tariff threat | Trump lashes out at Canada over trade | Warren looks to block Trump pick for consumer agency The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Defiant Trump meets with House GOP amid border blowback Republican senator calls for face-to-face with EPA’s Pruitt MORE (R-Iowa), the Ranking Member, rigorously questioned both nominees. In July, the Judiciary Committee reported Bernal and Olguin on voice votes with Utah Senator Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeGOP senators introduce bill to prevent family separations at border Another chance to seek the return of fiscal sanity to the halls of Congress Trump plan to claw back billion in spending in peril MORE voting no to protest Obama’s January Executive recess appointments. Senator McConnell (R-Ky.) entered an agreement for a floor vote on Bernal this week and should do so for Olguin before the Senate adjourns because they are well qualified and the Central District requires all of its judges to effectively address its huge, complicated docket. Judge O’Connell will testify at a Wednesday hearing, which the California senators will probably attend to voice their strong support, while Grassley is likely to carefully question the jurist.

The three Central District of California vacancies undermine justice. Thus, senators must quickly approve President Obama’s excellent nominees, so that the court can deliver justice.

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