A group of federal court hopefuls who failed to win confirmation before the end of the year have been renominated, but some other candidates might not get a second chance.
The White House renominated 16 candidates to district courts and courts of appeals, but five others who drew criticism from Republicans in the Senate have not been renominated.
The judicial hopefuls who are getting another chance include four U.S. District Court nominees from Florida—Jacqueline Becerra, Melissa Damian and David Seymour Leibowitz, all nominated to the Southern District of Florida, and Julie Simone Sneed, nominated to the Middle District of Florida.
Renominated for U.S. District Court from California are Eumi K. Lee, for the Northern District of California, and Kirk Edward Sherriff, for the Eastern District of California.
Also renominated from New Jersey are Edward Sunyol Kiel, for U.S. District Court, and Adeel Abdullah Mangi, for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
And Sarah Russell, a nominee for U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, was also renominated.
However, the White House pull its support for five individuals who were nominated in 2023 but not confirmed.
Republican senators perceived two of those for U.S. District Court—Marian Gaston of the Southern District of California and Todd Edelman of the District Court for the District of Columbia—as soft on crime, said Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law who studies the federal court selection process.
Gaston’s record as a public defender drew criticism from some Republican senators, who raised objections to a paper she co-authored that said sex offender registry requirements had unintended consequences, according to some news accounts.
One other candidate, Colleen Holland, a nominee for District Court in the Western District of New York, withdrew her name from consideration, according to a news account. Holland, who serves as special counsel to Chief Judge Elizabeth A. Wolford of the Western District of New York, was first nominated for a judgeship in August 2023.
Another one, Charnelle Bjelkengren, a District Court candidate for the Eastern District of Washington, was criticized by Republicans after failing to answer Sen. John Kennedy’s questions about the meaning of Articles II and V of the Constitution in her hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The Alliance for Justice, a coalition of liberal groups that monitors the federal judiciary, criticized the failure to renominate those candidates.
“While it’s heartening the White House renominated several exceptional people and prioritized renominations early in the new year, it’s disappointing that these five nominees were not included. The Senate could have confirmed more judicial nominees before the end of the year if it had simply taken votes on these crucial lifetime positions. Instead, the nation begins 2024 further behind in the vital work of transforming our courts,” said Jake Faleschini, the justice program director at AFJ, in a statement.
Gaston and Bjelkengren still could be confirmed because they enjoy the support of their home-state senators, Tobias said. As for the fifth candidate who was not renominated, Scott Colom, picked for the District of Mississippi, Tobias said his future is less certain as one of his state’s senators withheld support for his nomination.