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Oklahoma legal leaders urge Sens. Tom Coburn and Jim Inhofe to seek vote on state's judicial nominee

Senate Republicans are blocking votes for nominees to federal appeals courts, and leaders in Oklahoma's legal community want the state's GOP senators to intervene for Robert E. Bacharach
by Chris Casteel Published: July 20, 2012

Leaders in Oklahoma's legal community urged the state's U.S. senators on Thursday to use their “considerable influence” to break a Republican blockade that is preventing a Senate vote on an Oklahoman nominated for a federal appeals court vacancy.

A letter from attorneys who represent Oklahoma with the American Bar Association also urges Sens. Tom Coburn and Jim Inhofe to announce publicly their willingness to vote on Robert E. Bacharach's nomination to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The letter was signed by Jimmy Goodman, Oklahoma's delegate to the American Bar Association, and nine others, including Cathy M. Christensen, president of the Oklahoma Bar Association. It seeks a vote on Bacharach before lawmakers leave for a monthlong recess in August. The nomination was made in January.

Neither senator provided a response late Thursday.

Coburn, R-Muskogee, and Inhofe, R-Tulsa, strongly support Bacharach's nomination, which cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 7. Bacharach, who is now a federal magistrate judge in Oklahoma City, received the highest rating from the American Bar Association.

But Senate Republicans have refused to allow full Senate votes in the last few weeks on nominees for circuit courts — which can wield considerable influence since they are just one step below the U.S. Supreme Court.

Blocking circuit court nominees is a tactic commonly used in presidential election years by senators in the party that doesn't control the White House; the goal is to delay confirmations for lifetime appointments in hopes that their party will regain the White House and the power to fill judicial vacancies.

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by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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