By David Espo-Associated Press
After a lengthy blockade this year, Senate Republicans have agreed to let at least 19 of President Obama‘s judicial nominees win confirmation in the waning days of the congressional session, in exchange for a commitment by Democrats not to seek votes on four other, more controversial picks, according to officials familiar with the deal.
Among the four still being blocked is Goodwin Liu, a law school dean seen as a potential future Supreme Court pick, whose nomination to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has sparked strong criticism from Republicans.
As part of the arrangement, the Senate has approved 10 judges in the past few days without a single dissenting vote. One of them, Albert Diaz, had been awaiting confirmation to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., since clearing the SenateJudiciary Committee in January.
The agreement was worked out between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican counterpart Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, with the knowledge of the White House, officials said. Spokesmen for the two Senate leaders declined comment.
In the talks, Mr. Reid also pushed for confirmation for James Cole, whom Mr. Obama picked last spring for the No. 2 post in the Justice Department. His nomination to be deputy attorney general is opposed by Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the senior Republican on the Judiciary Committee, and the state of the nomination is unclear.
Officials described the maneuvering on the condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to discuss private conversations.
Judicial nominations have become intensely political in recent years as presidents seek approval for nominees who frequently spark opposition from outside interest groups aligned with the opposing party, as well as from senators themselves.
Democrats filibustered several of President George W. Bush‘s conservative nominees, refusing to allow a vote on some for years. The logjam was broken in the spring of 2005 in a compromise that allowed some to be confirmed while a smaller number were jettisoned.
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