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PA-Sen: Judiciary Committee Sets Confirmation Hearing for Restrepo

Felipe-RestrepoThe U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee has finally set a date for Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo’s confirmation hearing.

The hearing is scheduled for next Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. If confirmed, Restrepo will fill a federal judicial vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit.

Restrepo, currently at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of PA, was nominated by Pres. Obama in November. There have been delays during the confirmation process, most notably a conundrum over Sen. Pat Toomey’s “blue slip” for the judge.

Toomey said he was waiting for the Judiciary Committee to complete a background check on Restrepo before returning the slip, while the committee’s chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley said he was waiting for the blue slip to be given back before open proceedings.

In the seven months since Restrepo was nominated, the seat he was named to fill has been declared a “judicial emergency vacancy” by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.

Glenn Sugameli, founder of Judging the Environment, said he believes the process has been filled with “sheer mindless obstruction.”

Judging the Environment is an Washington, D.C.-based organization that has tracked judicial nominees since 2001.

Restrepo was unanimously confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of PA in 2013, making the delay for a background check, as well as for the blue slip, “clearly massive and unjustifiable,” Sugameli said.

On May 12, the City Council of Pittsburgh adopted a resolution urging Toomey and Grasley to move the confirmation process ahead, before another judicial emergency vacancy is declared in PA.

“[It’s] pretty remarkable when you have to have a city council weigh in to have a Senator do his job,” Sugameli said.

Restrepo’s seat is just one of 57 judicial vacancies across the country, with only 13 nominees pending for those seats. 24 of those openings have been declared judicial emergencies, while 23 more seats are set to open in the next year.

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