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Republicans block Tulsa judicial nominee as senators point fingers over inaction

Tulsa attorney John E. Dowdell has bipartisan support in Congress for a district judgeship, but Republicans won't consider any of President Barack Obama's nominees until after the election.
by Chris Casteel Published: September 21, 2012

— Senate Republicans on Thursday blocked an attempt to confirm 17 nominees for federal judgeships, including one from Tulsa.

The move means Tulsa attorney John E. Dowdell — like Robert E. Bacharach, a U.S. magistrate judge in Oklahoma City — will have to wait until after the Nov. 6 presidential election to find out whether he will be confirmed. Senators and House members are expected to leave Washington this week until mid-November.

Dowdell has been nominated for a U.S. district judgeship in Tulsa and Bacharach for a seat on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is a step below the U.S. Supreme Court. Senate Republicans in July blocked an attempt by Democrats to get a vote on Bacharach.

Both Oklahoma nominees sailed through the Senate Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support and would be easily confirmed if not for presidential politics. Republicans have been blocking votes on judicial nominees for several weeks, hoping Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney will win the election and replace President Barack Obama's pending judicial nominees with his own.

Democrats have done the same thing in previous election years, though Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday they had not blocked district court nominees.

Reid tried Thursday to confirm 17 pending district court nominees by unanimous consent, a fast-track process in which there is no roll call vote.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Obama's first term may end with more judicial vacancies than when it began.

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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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