This vote was on confirming Jane Stranch of Tennessee to be a judge for the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Stranch’s nomination sat in limbo almost eight months before being called up for this vote. She had the support of both of her home-state senators from Tennessee – both Republicans – but a bloc of other conservative Republicans had held up her nomination.
One of those Republicans was Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., who said that Stranch “has the qualifications one would expect,” but that he opposed her nomination “because of a very troubling development that I see in several nominations.”
Specifically, Kyl said that Stranch and other judicial nominees President Obama has put forward, including Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, do not take “a strong enough position against applying foreign law to interpret the American Constitution.”
“I appreciate her recognition that foreign law is not controlling, but interpreting the Constitution doesn't require the application of foreign law to develop material on societal norms or standards of decency or to refute contrary assertions, and it doesn't have any relevance in even confirming American views, as she said in her statement. If the American view of the Constitution is X, let's say, then it is X. That is the American view. And if it is agreed to by other countries, that is fine. If it is not, it is not the judge's business to inquire into it and wonder why it does agree or does not agree with the American view,” Kyl said.
Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., spent half of his time praising Stranch’s qualifications and the other half scolding Republicans for being particularly obstructionist when it comes to confirming Obama’s judicial nominees.
“A number of recent newspaper articles have discussed the judicial vacancy crisis that has been created by the Republican strategy of slow-walking the Senate's consideration of noncontroversial nominations. Remember, these are all people who, when they finally get a vote after waiting months and months and months, usually get a unanimous vote. These include district court nominations, which are traditionally considered without delays, and they have never been targeted for obstruction by Democrats or Republicans when they have been supported by their home State Senators. Last year, the Senate was allowed to confirm only 12 Federal circuit and district court judges all year. That was the lowest total in more than 50 years. So far this year, we have confirmed only 28 more and achieved what one recent news story noted is the lowest number of confirmations in more than 40 years,” Leahy said.
By a vote of 71-21, Stranch was confirmed. Every Democrat present voted for her confirmation. Of Republicans present, 16 voted for her confirmation and 21 voted against. The end result is that Stranch was confirmed to the post of judge for the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.