We finally have a new judge on the Third Circuit bench.
Tuesday, the Senate confirmed New Jersey Judge Patty Shwartz by a 64-34 vote for a seat on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, The Associated Press reports. She will fill Senior Judge Maryanne Trump Barry's seat.
Judge Barry took senior status in June 2011; President Obama nominated Judge Shwartz for the appellate court later that year.
Judge Shwartz -- a graduate of Rutgers University (BA, '83) and the University of Pennsylvania Law School (JD, '86) -- satisfies the standard Obama nominee formula: clerkship + private practice + public sector + academia = nomination. Shwartz clerked for Judge Harold Ackerman of the U.S. District Court for New Jersey, practiced law as an associate at Pepper, Hamilton & Scheetz (now Pepper Hamilton LLP), served in the public sector at the U.S. Attorney's office and as a magistrate judge, and taught as an adjunct professor at Fordham Law School.
Despite receiving a "unanimously well qualified" rating from the American Bar Association, Judge Shwartz faced tough opposition in the Senate. But it wasn't just partisanship that delayed Judge Shwartz's confirmation.
For months, Democratic Senator Robert Menendez openly opposed Shwartz's nomination, claiming that she "did not adequately demonstrate the breadth of knowledge of constitutional law and pivotal Supreme Court decisions ... that we should expect from a U.S. Circuit Court judge." Senator Menendez was the first Democrat to block an Obama judicial appointment.
After initially withholding his "blue slip" to the Judiciary Committee indicating his support of Shwartz, Senator Menendez finally lifted the hold last year after Shwartz "adequately allayed" his earlier concerns about her answers to legal questions, The Star-Ledger reports.
Judge Schwartz's confirmation means that the Third Circuit Court of Appeals judicial roster is once again full.
- Five Things to Know About Third Circuit Nominee Patty Shwartz (FindLaw's Third Circuit Blog)
- Menendez, Obama Showdown? Discord Over Third Circuit Nomination (FindLaw's Third Circuit Blog)
- On the Nomination PN5: Patty Shwartz, of New Jersey, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Third Circuit (GovTrack.us)