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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Defenders of Wildlife


L. Felipe Restrepo

Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals
Confirmed January 11, 2016

On December 9, 2015, a January 11, 2016 Senate Floor vote was finally set on the unopposed, yet inexplicably and inexcusably delayed, November 12, 2014 nomination of U.S. District Judge L. Felipe Restrepo to the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which would fill one of a growing number of U.S. Courts declared judicial emergency vacancies. 

On January 11, 2016, the Senate confirmed Restrepo on a 82 to 6 vote as the first Hispanic Circuit judge from Pennsylvania. This belatedly followed a July 9, 2015 Senate Judiciary Committee approval of Judge Restrepo's nomination on an unopposed voice vote.

Restrepo’s home-state Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Bob Casey (D-PA) strongly recommended his nomination. On July 9, 2015, the Judiciary Committee approved Judge Restrepo's nomination on an unopposed voice vote.

Sens. Toomey and Casey also endorsed Restrepo’s November 2012 nomination to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, which the Senate confirmed in a January 2013 voice vote.

For six months, Judiciary Chairman Grassley and home-state Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) refused to allow a hearing on Judge Restrepo’s nomination, despite urging from Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Judiciary Committee Ranking member Patrick Leahy (D-VT), a letter from the Hispanic National Bar Association, a City Council of Pittsburgh adopted Resolution and a wide range of Editorials and Commentary, including the latest Pennsylvania Editorial Board opinions to call for Senate action to fill federal judicial vacancies.

On May 14, 2015, Sen. Toomey finally gave the home-state senator approval that Sen. Casey had given in November. Despite Chairman Grassley’s statement that he would schedule a hearing "When I get the blue slips returned," he did not do so until June 3, when he belatedly set a hearing for June 10, 2015. On June 25, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) delayed Restrepo's scheduled Committee vote for at least two weeks.

On July 9, 2015, the Judiciary Committee approved Judge Restrepo's nomination on an unopposed voice vote. If a Floor vote had been held one week later, it would followed the example of the Democratically-controlled 2007 Senate which confirmed President George W. Bush’s nomination of Judge Thomas Hardiman to fill a Third Circuit Pennsylvania seat one week after Hardiman’s Committee approval. As Senate Minority Leader Reid said on the Floor on July 7, 2015, if Sen. Toomey simply asked “to confirm Judge Restrepo immediately …  I’m confident if that happened, we would have that matter on the calendar. We could confirm Judge Restrepo to the Third Circuit next week.”


Similarly-situated nominees show just how not-business-as-usual this “review” and delay have been.

L. Felipe Restrepo: 3rd Circuit Pennsylvania

            Nominated: 11/12/14

           Floor vote: TBD (over a year and counting, since 11/12/14 nomination)

President Obama has had two other nominees to the 3rd Circuit from Pennsylvania:

             Cheryl Krause: 3rd Circuit Pennsylvania

                      Nominated: 2/6/14

                      Hearing: 3/12/14, 34 days after nomination

                      Confirmed: 7/7/14 (by a vote of 93-0), 151 days after nomination

            Thomas Vanaskie: 3rd Circuit Pennsylvania

                     Nominated: 8/6/09

                     Hearing: 11/4/09, 90 days after nomination

                     Confirmed: 4/21/10 (by a vote of 77-20), 258 days after nomination

President Obama has nominated four other Obama district court judges to become circuit court judges:

            Gregg Costa: 5th Circuit Texas

                   Nominated: 12/19/13

                   Hearing: 2/25/14, 68 days after nomination

                   Confirmed: 5/20/14 (by a vote of 97-0), 152 days after nomination

           Robin Rosenbaum: 11th Circuit Florida

                  Nominated: 11/7/13

                  Hearing: 2/11/14, 96 days after nomination

                 Confirmed: 5/12/14 (by a vote of 91-0), 186 days after nomination

          Robert Wilkins: DC Circuit

                 Nominated: 6/4/13

                 Hearing: 9/11/13, 99  days after nomination

                Confirmed: 1/13/14 (by a vote of 55-43), 223 days after nomination

          Jacqueline Nguyen: 9th Circuit CA

                  Nominated: 9/22/11

                  Hearing: 11/2/11, 41 days after nomination

                  Confirmed: 5/7/12 (by a vote of 91-3), 228 days after nomination

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