WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) announced a bipartisan agreement on filling federal district court vacancies in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania has a long history of cooperation between its two U.S. senators on filling U.S. District Court vacancies. Sens. Casey and Toomey intend to continue this tradition. Both senators share the goal of appointing federal judges who demonstrate intelligence, extensive prior experience as lawyers or judges, and unquestioned honesty and integrity.
“Recommending and confirming strong judicial candidates is among the most significant responsibilities of a U.S. Senator,” said Senator Casey. “This bipartisan agreement reached with Senator Toomey will go a long way to make sure excellent candidates are nominated and confirmed.”
“In recent years, judicial selections at the national level have too often become overly politicized. That’s why I am so pleased that Sen. Casey and I have reached this bipartisan agreement to ensure that the most capable, knowledgeable and ethical candidates become federal judges serving Pennsylvania,” Sen. Toomey said.
For more information on the agreement, please read below.
U.S. District Court Vacancies in Pennsylvania
There are currently eight judicial vacancies in the U.S. District Courts of Pennsylvania: three in the Eastern District, three in the Middle District and two in the Western District. In 2010, President Obama made nominations to fill the two Western District vacancies and one of the Middle District vacancies. None of those nominees was confirmed in 2010 and the president re-nominated the same individuals in early 2011. Those three nominees will follow the ordinary course for judicial nominations in the U.S. Senate, including review and due diligence by the two Pennsylvania senators, the “blue slip” process, hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee and, ultimately, confirmation votes by the full Senate.
For the other five current vacancies and all future U.S. District Court vacancies, Senators Casey and Toomey will employ the following process:
Separate judicial nomination advisory panels will be established in the Eastern District and the Middle District, and in the Western District Court when necessary. These panels will screen applicants for judicial vacancies and make recommendations to the two senators.
Each panel will consist of approximately 20 members, half of whom are appointed by Sen. Casey with the other half appointed by Sen. Toomey.
Each panel also will have two co-chairs, one appointed by Sen. Casey and one appointed by Sen. Toomey.
Eastern District Panel Co-Chairs: Robert Ross – Senior Partner at Ross Feller Casey, LLP; John J. Soroko — Chairman and CEO, Duane Morris LLP
Middle District Panel Co-Chairs: Harry P. McGrath – McGrath Law Offices; Honorable Robert A. Graci — Chair of the Appellate Group, Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, LLC
Western District Panel Co-Chairs: Michael Adams – Founder and Managing Partner, Mike Adams & Associates, LLC; Laura E. Ellsworth — Partner-in-Charge (Pittsburgh Office), Jones Day
In each district, co-chairs will agree on the time and place of interviews for applicants, as well as interview procedures.
Co-chairs will advertise in bar journals and other relevant publications, giving notice to applicants. Sens. Casey and Toomey will each post advertisements on their respective websites.
To be considered for a judicial appointment, applicants must participate in the process described herein. All applicants will be required to complete and submit the questionnaire promulgated by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Each applicant who completes and submits the questionnaire will be interviewed by the relevant panel.
The names of and information regarding applicants will be kept confidential.
Panel recommendations will be made to the senators, who will then review applicants and make recommendations to the White House.