Why Trump should renominate Inga Bernstein for the District of Massachusetts
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In July 2015, President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaC-SPAN forced into 7-second delay after caller's racist tirade against Obama Judge dismisses Bevin lawsuit against Kentucky Medicaid activists Primary challenge to Trump? It could help him in 2020 MORE nominated Inga Bernstein, a very experienced litigator, for a judicial vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.

Bernstein was a highly qualified, mainstream nominee who had strong support from Massachusetts Democratic senators Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenOvernight Health Care: Azar defends approach on drug rebates | Trump presses Senate to act quickly on opioid crisis | Kentucky governor's Medicaid lawsuit tossed Trump lauds ICE at White House event Trump calls for public officials to praise ICE, Border Patrol agents MORE and Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyTo make the House of Representatives work again, make it bigger Dems urge tech companies to remove 3D-gun blueprints Make the moon a refueling station — then head to Mars MORE.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Bernstein on a May 2016 voice vote without dissent. However, she languished on the floor all year until her nomination expired on January 3, primarily because Republicans denied her a confirmation debate and vote. Because Ms. Bernstein is a talented, moderate nominee and the District of Massachusetts requires all of its judges, President Donald Trump should renominate her and the Senate must promptly confirm Bernstein.

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The District currently experiences one vacancy in thirteen active judgeships. This means that the court must operate without eight percent of its active judicial contingent, which frustrates swift, economic and fair case resolution.

 

Because the Speedy Trial Act grants criminal cases priority, parties engaged in civil cases encounter difficulty capturing trial dates and finishing their litigation. Deciding cases without one thirteenth of the judgeships authorized correspondingly places more pressure on the District’s judges.

On July 30, 2015, Obama nominated Bernstein. The President lauded her strong legal career, proclaiming that she has displayed an “unwavering commitment to justice and integrity” and voicing confidence that Bernstein would serve the public well.

The White House press release stated that Bernstein had participated in employment and criminal cases for more than twenty years.

Nevertheless, the Judiciary Committee failed to schedule Bernstein’s hearing until April 20, 2016. The Massachusetts senators introduced the nominee, praised her excellent qualifications and urged Bernstein’s expeditious Senate confirmation.

That session proceeded well, and the lawmakers who asked questions seemed satisfied with her answers. On May 19, the committee approved Bernstein on a voice vote after little discussion and without controversy.

Over 2016’s remainder, Bernstein waited on the Senate floor for a debate and ballot. The Republican leaders claimed that they were returning the Senate to “regular order.” However, Bernstein and many other well qualified, mainstream nominees languished for months awaiting debates and ballots.

Senators Warren and Markey vigorously urged a prompt floor vote, yet Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnell15 senators miss votes despite McConnell's criticism of absentees Overnight Health Care: Azar defends approach on drug rebates | Trump presses Senate to act quickly on opioid crisis | Kentucky governor's Medicaid lawsuit tossed Dem senator introduces proposal to rein in Trump on security clearances MORE (R-Ky.), the Majority Leader, refused to schedule it. A few Democratic senators requested unanimous consent to vote on Bernstein and eighteen other district nominees who needed final ballots, but the GOP objected.

Finally, in early January, the Senate adjourned without voting on any nominee.

Bernstein’s re-nomination and confirmation can be achieved easily. The Massachusetts senators must urge President Donald Trump to promptly nominate Bernstein again, just as he recently renominated Judge David Nye and Dean Scott Palk, well qualified, mainstream Obama nominees, who had earned 2016 committee approval like Bernstein.

Inga Bernstein is a fine, consensus nominee, who enjoys both Massachusetts senators’ powerful support and deserves appointment, while the court requires all of its active judges to deliver justice. Therefore, President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump threatens ex-intel official's clearance, citing comments on CNN Protesters topple Confederate monument on UNC campus Man wanted for threatening to shoot Trump spotted in Maryland MORE should promptly renominate Bernstein and the Senate must rapidly confirm her.

Carl Tobias is the Williams Chair in Law at the University of Richmond. He has published in the country’s top law journals, including the Stanford, Columbia, California, and Cornell Law Reviews, among others. HIs work has also appeared in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, Slate and Politico.


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