Skip Navigation
Judging the Environment judicial nominations photo

A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.



Paul Watford

Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals
Confirmed May 21, 2012

The Senate belatedly confirmed Paul Watford to fill one of three emergency vacancies on the Ninth Cirucit U.S. Court of Appeals on a vote of 61-34 on May 21, 2012, after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid filed a cloture petition to cut off a filibuster and then vitiated (withdrew it) after finally obtaining the unanimous consent required to hold an up-or-down vote.

When Paul Watford was nominated on October 18, 2011, the Los Angeles Times headline accurately read: “Obama nominates L.A. lawyer to 9th Circuit: The choice of Paul Watford for the overburdened federal appeals court draws praise from both sides of the political aisle. Some see a smoother path for him to Senate confirmation.”

Despite this, strong support from leading conservative lawyers, including Orin Kerr and Eugene Volokh, and an apparently uneventful, Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, however, on February 2, 2012, Alliance for Justice’s blog Justice Watch reported that:

This morning the Senate Judiciary Committee reported 9th Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Paul Watford to the Senate floor in a vote of 10-6 along party lines, with two Republican senators (Jon Kyl and Lindsey Graham) voting “Present.” 

California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein gave a statement in support of Mr. Watford, praising his legal record and highlighting his bipartisan support. Watford’s nomination is supported by Jeremy Rosen, head of the California Branch of the Federalist Society, conservative Chief Justice of the 9th Circuit Alex Kozinksi, and the CEOs of Verizon, Mattel, and Google. Although several Republican senators voted against Watford, none of them spoke against his nomination at the meeting. 

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is currently faced with four judicial vacancies and a caseload of 557 cases per judge (.pdf download), more cases than any other circuit. Each vacancy in the 9th Circuit has been declared a judicial emergency.


gavel icon See all letters for this nominee

gavel icon See all senators' statements for this nominee

gavel icon See all news stories about this nominee

gavel icon See all editorials and commentary about this nominee