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Long Delayed 3rd Cir Nominee Luis Restrepo to Wait Even Longer

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By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on May 06, 2015 4:12 PM

Tomorrow, the Senate Judiciary committee will hold a hearing on pending nominees, allowing for some much needed movement after two months without a hearing. That won't mean much for the Third Circuit, however. Even after six months, the Senate is still stalling on President Obama's nomination of Luis Felipe Restrepo for the Third Circuit.

When Restrepo was nominated last November, he was one of a cohort of seven nominees to federal judgeships. The Senate has held hearings on only two of that group, so far.

What's the hold up?


Luis Felipe Restrepo (no relation to the award-winning war documentary) was born in Columbia and raised in Virginia. He attended Penn for undergrad and Tulane for law school. He made his name as a public defender and civil rights lawyer in Philadelphia, before moving to private practice and the judiciary. He began his law career as a clerk for the National Prison Project and remains concerned with prisoner issues; as a magistrate he lead a program to help ex-offenders find jobs, get educated and rectify their credit history.

In one of his more amusing career details, Restrepo oversaw a case involving a damaged, indebted cargo ship stuck in the Delaware River. The 20 member crew was trapped on board -- their visas had expired -- while Restrepo oversaw the dispute between the ship, the Coast Guard, and creditors.

By almost all accounts, Restrepo is an uncontroversial nominee. Indeed, before being nominated for the Third Circuit vacancy, he had recently been confirmed for a district court position in 2013. That nomination saw a similarly long delay, but little disagreement over his merits.

Don't Worry, It's Not You ...

The delay in hearing Restrepo's nomination is largely the result of Republican opposition to Obama. Stalling judicial appointments has become routine practice over the past years. At times, it's based out of opposition to the candidate put forward, and has lead to several nominations being withdrawn. That's what happened to Goodwin Lui, who withdrew his name after complaints that he was overly politicized. For other nominees, the delay is simply the result of power plays between Congress and the administration. That seems to be the case here, as few have spoken openly against Restrepo's candidacy.

As with his district court nomination, Restrepo may just have to wait it out. In the meantime, the Third Circuit remains one judge short of a full court.

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