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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.


Rebecca Haywood

Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals
Returned to President January 3, 2017

President Obama nominated Rebecca Ross Haywood of Pennsylvania to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on March 15, 2016.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) blocked a hearing for Rebecca Haywood's nomination to be the first African-American woman on the Third Circuit. Sen. Toomey refused to submit his home-state Senator “blue slip” to allow a hearing to fill a Pennsylvania seat even though Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) submitted his and North Dakota and Wisconsin Republican senators submitted theirs for Eighth Circuit and Seventh Circuit nominees the Committee held hearings on in 2016 and sent to the Floor. See Commentary on this nominee. The Nomination was returned to the President on January 3, 2017.

Sen. Toomey's position was in stark contrast to his many fellow Republican Senators who worked with the Obama White House and filled all court vacancies in their states and those who continued to do so throughout 2016:

Republican Senators from 15 States Urge Immediate Action to Fill Their Judicial Vacancies (CO, FL, ID, IN, KS, LA, ND, OH, OK, PA, SC, TN, TX, UT, WI) (Sept. 13, 2016)
(Republican - Colorado, Utah, Texas, Tennessee, Florida, South Carolina, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, Kansas, North Dakota, Kentucky, Louisiana, Wisconsin) 09/13/16 
Including all 16 Republican senators with nominees on the Senate Floor. Excerpts and links to Senator statements by state

These Republican Senators Want Their Judicial Nominees Confirmed. Majority Leader McConnell Isn’t Listening. (Medium, 08/04/16)
Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

Toomey Irked by Obama’s Third Circuit Nominee (Legal Intelligencer, 03/16/16)
Glenn Sugameli, a Washington, D.C.-based attorney ­tracking judicial vacancies, said other senators have experienced similar circumstances of Obama nominating a judicial candidate without their approval, and have still managed to submit their blue slips. The so-called "blue slip" is part of a Senate procedure established more by tradition than formal rule and holds that a nominee won't get a hearing in front of the Judiciary Committee until both of the home-state senators return a blue slip giving their OK to the committee chair. "The blue slips from Republican senators from North Dakota and Wisconsin have been turned in, which gives a green light on circuit court nominees to fill vacancies right now," Sugameli said. "I don't see any reason why Sen. Toomey can't do the same thing."

AFJ Commends President Obama for his Nomination of Rebecca Haywood to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Alliance for Justice (03/15/16)

Civil and Human Rights Coalition Applauds Haywood Judicial Nomination, Calls for an End to Republican Blockade on Judges, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (03/15/2016)

STATEMENT: Why Courts Matter - PA Coalition on Nomination of Rebecca Haywood to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals (03/16/16)

Sen. Casey Statement on Nomination of Rebecca Ross Haywood for United States Court of Appeals
(Democrat - Pennsylvania) 03/15/16 
“Rebecca Haywood is an excellent nominee for the Third Circuit Court of Appeals and I’m pleased that President Obama will submit her name to the Senate for consideration. Rebecca Haywood’s career has been rooted in public service. Since 2003 she’s worked in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Pennsylvania and has established a reputation for integrity and legal excellence. During her time in the Appellate Division she’s dealt extensively with both criminal and civil matters. Since 2010, she’s served as Chief of the Appellate Division where she oversees all of the Western District’s appellate work and makes arguments on behalf of the government’s position in front of Circuit Courts. She’s fought to protect children. She’s a highly qualified candidate for a seat on the Circuit Court of Appeals and deserves to be given fair consideration. Rebecca Haywood’s nomination will fill a vital vacancy on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. Senate Republicans should commit to doing their job and giving the Haywood nomination a fair hearing and timely vote. The Senate Judiciary Committee’s historic tradition of independence is at stake. In January, Heritage Action and other extreme voices on the right called on Senate Republicans to halt progress on all judicial nominations until President Obama left office. Ever since then the Republican led Judiciary Committee has slow-walked judicial nominations, including threatening to refuse to give any Supreme Court nominee from President Obama a hearing. Rebecca Haywood has spent her career serving our nation and shouldn’t be rendered a pawn in the political games being played by Chairman Grassley and Senate Republicans on the Judiciary Committee. Senators are free to vote however they choose on a judicial nominee but these same Senators have an abiding obligation to fulfill their most basic duties of advice and consent. A substantial amount of cases are decided at the appellate level so it’s essential that our Circuit Courts be fully staffed. I’m hopeful that that Senate Republicans will give Rebecca Haywood the consideration that her record of service, legal excellence and integrity deserves.”

Sen. Toomey’s Statement on the Nomination of Rebecca Haywood to the Third Circuit
(Republican - Pennsylvania) 03/15/16 
"Over the years, President Obama's Administration, Senator Casey, and I have worked well together on filling federal judgeships for Pennsylvania. Since 2011, we have confirmed two Third Circuit judgeships - including one just a couple months ago - as well as filled fourteen vacancies at the district court level. Only two states - California and New York - have had more vacancies filled during this time. Currently, we are working to advance four more federal district court nominees through the Senate, and I remain committed to doing all I can to get these nominees confirmed. "That's why it is so disappointing that - for the first time since I've been in the Senate - President Obama is nominating someone for the federal bench in Pennsylvania without the approval of both Senator Casey and me. The Administration knows that I have concerns about the nomination of Ms. Haywood to serve on the Third Circuit. For instance, when I interviewed her for this position, she struggled to answer legal questions about the constitutionality of executive actions such as President Obama's executive amnesty. Her inadequate responses cast serious doubt on whether she would capably serve at the federal appellate level, and I do not support her nomination. "During what has been a largely cooperative and successful bipartisan judicial appointment process, there have occasionally been disagreements and delays behind the scenes from both sides. And yet these matters have been handled privately with the overarching goal of finding a bipartisan consensus that all parties could support and is in the best interest of the Pennsylvanians we serve. It is unfortunate that the White House has decided to pursue this partisan, confrontational approach over a flawed candidate. "I therefore urge President Obama to reconsider his partisan, my-way-or-the-highway approach here. Instead of blowing up a bipartisan working arrangement for judicial nominees that has done so much good for Pennsylvania, the President should take a step back, put an end to this political theater, withdraw a nomination that is not suitable for such an important lifetime position, and instead work across the aisle with Senator Casey and me to arrive at a consensus nominee as we have for every other vacancy since 2011."

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