After Waiting Nearly 400 Days, Rossiter Confirmed to Federal Bench

Courts News 06.27.16

The U.S. Senate on Monday unanimously confirmed Robert Rossiter, Jr. to the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska. Rossiter, who will fill one of 30 current judicial emergencies nationwide, was nominated by President Obama more than a year ago.

Rossiter is just the 21st federal judge confirmed since Republicans took control of the Senate in January 2015. In comparison, in the last two years of President George W. Bush’s administration (when Democrats were in the majority), 68 judges were confirmed.

Rossiter had the support of Nebraska’s two Republican senators. During his confirmation hearing in September, Sen. Deb Fischer encouraged her colleagues to support the nomination, saying “I am confident that we have found a truly remarkable and qualified person to fill the vacancy on Nebraska’s federal district court.”

After Rossiter was confirmed by voice vote in committee, Nebraska’s other senator, Ben Sasse, wrote that “Judge Rossiter is an honest and dutiful Nebraskan with a charge to uphold the rule of law impartially and fairly.” Even with that support, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell waited eight months after committee approval to give him a vote.

The slow-walking of judicial nominees by McConnell and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley has created a judicial vacancy crisis nationwide. And for more than 100 days now, Senate Republicans have also been blocking Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick Garland.

Last week, the American Bar Association gave Garland a unanimously well-qualified rating – the highest rating possible. Despite that assessment – and despite a Supreme Court that just last Thursday deadlocked in a significant immigration case – Senate Republicans have not yet signaled they will move on the nomination.

The Senate is scheduled to vote on another district court nominee, Brian Martinotti of New Jersey, on July 6. Martinotti was nominated the same day as Rossiter.