The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Judge Adalberto Jose Jordan to the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which decides the major federal legal disputes of Florida, Georgia and Alabama. Jordan, of Miami, is the first Cuban-born judge to sit on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Jordan was approved 94-5.
The confirmation vote would have happened sooner but got caught up in Republican objections to President Barack Obama's appointment process. Jordan had wide support, however, including from Florida Sens. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, and Marco Rubio, a Republican.
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, vowed to vote against or hold up all of Obama’s nominees — even those from Utah — in response to a recess appointment by the president. Lee objects in particular to Obama’s appointment in January of Richard Cordray, the director of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Often, judicial nominees are approved under unanimous consent, which means there’s no full vote on them. If a senator objects to a nominee, however, it can be difficult to get a floor vote on their confirmation. In Jordan’s case, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, called for a cloture vote, meaning he had to have the approval of 60 senators to move forward to a full vote on Jordan’s nomination. That came Monday night, on an 89-5 vote.
There's a rule requiring 30 hours between a clouture vote and a final vote, although it's often waived. But Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., objected to the final vote, forcing the confirmation vote to Wednesday and holding up several other pieces of legislation. Paul wanted senators to hear an amendment to a highway funding bill that would have discontinued foreign aid to Egypt.
Although many Republicans continue to seethe over Cordray’s recess appointment, only a handful have joined Lee in his protest votes against Obama appointees. Last week, only five other senators joined him in voting against a judicial nominee from California, Cathy Ann Bencivengo.
Lee, along with four other senators, voted against Jordan's appointment.
Many court watchers say that Republicans have been dragging their feet on Obama’s judicial appointments since the president took office, and not just because of the Cordray recess appointment. At this point in George W. Bush’s presidency, the average circuit court nominee was confirmed by the full Senate within 30 days of clearing the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Paul Gordon of People for the American Way. For Obama’s nominees, Gordon said, it’s a 136-day average,