Meet Barbara Milano Keenan

MEET BARBARA MILANO KEENAN…. Nearly seven months ago, President Obama nominated Judge Barbara Milano Keenan to serve on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. Her record and qualifications were beyond reproach, and she enjoyed the enthusiastic support of her home-state’s senators, Virginia’s Jim Webb (D) and Mark Warner (D).

Her nomination was considered nearly six months ago by the Senate Judiciary Committee, which approved Keenan unanimously — not a single Republican raised an objection. If ever there was going to be an Obama judicial nominee who deserved to be quickly and easily confirmed, Keenan fit the bill.

And yet, the Senate Republican caucus is the Senate Republican caucus. Keenan’s nomination was delayed, then, because of a GOP filibuster. Why? No one has the foggiest idea. It’s apparently just habitual — Republicans try to block judicial nominees just for the sake of trying to block judicial nominees.

This morning, the Senate held a cloture vote to end the Republican filibuster on Keenan. The vote was 99 to 0. This afternoon, the Senate held a final confirmation vote, and produced the same margin. (thanks to reader G.S.)

The Senate has unanimously confirmed Virginia Supreme Court Justice Barbara Milano Keenan to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

The vote Tuesday was 99-0 for Keenan, the first female judge elected in Virginia and the only woman appointed to the Virginia Court of Appeals when it was created in 1985. The Richmond-based Fourth Circuit covers Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. […]

Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., lamented that there are now some 100 vacancies among 876 federal judgeships, that the Fourth Circuit currently has four vacancies and that the seat Keenan will fill has been empty for two years.

Keenan’s nomination was delayed for months by a filibuster, only to see her win unanimous confirmation. In other words, those who sought to block her nomination ultimately voted against their own obstructionism, and for the judge they tried to stop.

It’s one thing to block an up-or-down vote on a judge some senators find problematic. But we have a Senate where Republicans filibuster nominees who enjoy unanimous support. We’re left with a confirmation process in which it takes seven months to approve arguably the least controversial judicial nominee this administration will ever send to the Senate.

Also note, it’s not just Keenan — there are several pending judicial nominees, all of whom have been approved by the Judiciary Committee, some with unanimous support, who continue to wait for no good reason.

This is an untenable process.