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Keenan confirmed by Senate for 4th Circuit post

Virginia Supreme Court Justice Barbara Milano Keenan of Alexandria was confirmed Tuesday afternoon by the U.S. Senate to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

The vote was 99-0, and came more than five months after President Obama nominated Keenan.

Obama inherited five vacancies on the Fourth Circuit, which has long been recognized as one of the most conservative appeals courts in the country, and Keenan becomes the second new judge for the court, which oversees federal district courts in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

Last week, with Keenan's nomination seemingly stalled after she had received approval from the Senate Judiciary Committee, Virginia's Democratic senators Jim Webb and Mark Warner urged a final confirmation for her.

Keenan, 60, is a longtime Northern Virginian who has served at every level of the Virginia judiciary as it is now organized. She was the first woman general district court judge in Virginia when she joined the Fairfax bench in 1980, and she was the first woman circuit court judge in 1982.

When the Virginia Court of Appeals was created in 1985, she was the only woman named to that bench. She was selected for the Virginia Supreme Court in 1991.

Keenan was raised in Northern Virginia, and earned her bachelor's degree from Cornell University in 1971. She earned her law degree from George Washington University in 1974 and a master's of law from the University of Virginia in 1992.

-- Tom Jackman

By Tom Jackman  |  March 2, 2010; 2:50 PM ET
Categories:  From the Courthouse , Tom Jackman , Updates  
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Your description of the Senate’s 99-0 vote to confirm Judge Barbara Keenan to the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals after a long-delay reveals the degree of mindless obstructionism by Republican Senators.

Even more telling is the fact that one or more unnamed Republican Senators refused to agree to a time limit on debate and forced a cloture vote to cut off a filibuster on Judge Keenan’s nomination, which was approved without dissent by the Judiciary Committee.

Incredibly, the filibuster “debate” today proceeded without a single word spoken against the nominee, and the cloture vote to cut off the filibuster was also a unanimous 99-0!

So, we now have a silent and secret filibuster on the Senate Floor- we do not even know who objected to an up-and down vote.

Republicans have transformed the Senate into a shadow-boxing club, with one-sided "fights" against one or more silent and secret opponents.

Today's cloture vote demonstrates conclusively that "opposition" to confirming Judge Keenan was pure obstruction for the sake of obstruction. The delay, filibuster, and demand for a cloture vote continued despite Keenan’s bi-partisan support and the lack of any concerns about the merits of the nomination or the need to fill the seat.

Sen. Leahy (D-VT) Floor Statements today explained how unjustified Republican delays and how federal judicial vacancies have increased to more than 100.

-Glenn Sugameli
Staff Attorney
Judging the Environment

Posted by: GlennSugameliJTE | March 2, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Lets see if I understand this: if republicans hold judicial appointments hostage in order to gain political advantage it is, "mindless obstructionism". What is it called when democrats do it?

I rather like a political system with rules & procedures that make legislative action difficult to achieve. Stick to judging the environment Glenn.....however that may be done.

Posted by: draceatty | March 2, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

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