US Senator Pat Toomey is blocking a hearing on the Third Circuit nomination of L. Felipe Restrepo, according to David Hawkings at Roll Call. In a post today, Hawkings reported that PA’s Republican Senator has not returned his blue slip on Restrepo’s nomination. Per Senate procedures, Toomey’s action leaves the nomination in limbo.
This is a shocking. In November,Toomey loudly endorsed Restrepo’s nomination, saying in a press release:
I am pleased that President Obama today has nominated Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo to serve our nation on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals,” said Sen. Toomey. “As both a federal magistrate and district judge, Judge Restrepo has served the people of Pennsylvania honorably and with distinction. He also is dedicated to his community by giving his free time to the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Sen. Casey and I recommended Judge Restrepo to the White House for a seat on the federal district court, and I believe that he will also make a superb addition to the Third Circuit based in Philadelphia.
Now, almost six months later, Toomey’s office told Hawkings the Senator still supports the nomination and “hopes it gets done this year.” His office “declined to discuss the missing blue slip.”
A follow-up report by Jennifer Bendery that just posted on Huffington Post added this embarrassing exchange:
When asked Tuesday if he’s withholding his blue slip, the Republican senator gave The Huffington Post a confusing answer.
“No, I’m not. Well, let me explain how that works to you. But I’ve got to run for this lunch,” he said, walking away quickly. “But I support his confirmation.”
Toomey said he didn’t have any new concerns about Restrepo and that he would turn in his blue slip. At some point.
“I will be submitting it at the appropriate time,” he said, before disappearing into an elevator.
Hawkins offers an explanation why Restrepo’s nomination is being blocked a senator who supports it:
Progressive advocacy groups and some Senate Democrats suspect Restrepo is being held hostage by the GOP as the latest act of retribution for Obama’s executive action on immigration last fall, which sought to grant an indefinite reprieve from deportation to millions of people in the country illegally.
The initial Republican approach — withholding funding from the Department of Homeland Security unless the president reversed course — ended up as a high-profile collapse this winter, and the Senate GOP’s fallback effort to deny Loretta Lynch’s confirmation as attorney general after she said she would support Obama’s policy has come to naught this spring. Now, some on the right are suggesting the best possible Plan C is preventing new judges on the appeals courts.
Also today, a Philadelphia pastor and activist with People for the American Way had an op-ed on Philly.com entitled, “Why the holdup on Third Circuit judge nominee?”
H/t Glenn Sugameli of Judging the Environment.