WASHINGTON — After months of Republican stalling, the Senate on Tuesday unanimously confirmed John E. Dowdell to be a U.S. district judge in Tulsa.
The 95-0 vote, joined by Republican leaders who have been blocking votes on President Barack Obama's judicial nominations, came six months after Dowdell sailed through the Judiciary Committee only to get caught up in presidential politics.
Senate Republicans have yet to allow a vote on another Oklahoma judicial nominee: Robert E. Bacharach, a federal magistrate judge in Oklahoma City who has been nominated for a seat on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a step below the U.S. Supreme Court.
Republicans had been holding up most nominations in hopes that Mitt Romney would win the presidency and substitute his own nominations for the ones made by Obama. Since the president won re-election on Nov. 6, Republicans have allowed votes only on a few that had been stalled.
20 still waiting
The Senate on Tuesday also confirmed a district court nominee from California. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said last week that 20 nominees are still awaiting votes.
Leahy said Tuesday, “With the American people's re-election of President Obama, there is no good purpose to be served by this further delay.
“But Robert Bacharach and nearly a dozen judicial nominees, who could be confirmed and who would fill four circuit court vacancies and five additional judicial emergency vacancies, are being forced to wait until next year — or perhaps forever — by the Senate Republican leadership.”
Dowdell, an attorney in private practice in Tulsa, was nominated in February to replace Judge Terence C. Kern, who assumed senior status nearly three years ago.
Obama's first nominee for the post, Arvo Mikkanen, was withdrawn a year ago because of opposition — never clearly explained — from Oklahoma Sens. Tom Coburn and Jim Inhofe.
Inhofe, R-Tulsa, and Coburn, R-Muskogee, strongly support Dowdell and Bacharach.
In remarks on the Senate floor on Tuesday, Inhofe said Dowdell had the “requisite experience and judicial temperament to be a fine judge.”
“I only wish we would get more of this type of judicial nominee from the administration,” Inhofe said.