With the Senate heading into a month-long recess when it adjourned last Thursday, Senate rules required either a unanimous consent to hold over nominees or the nominations had to be returned to the White House. The judicial nominees who were sent back were the most politically controversial ones, objected to by Senate Republicans (as well as business groups and critics of judicial activism).
- John J. McConnell, Jr., of Rhode Island, to be United States District Judge for the District of Rhode Island.
- Goodwin Liu, of California, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit.
- Robert Neil Chatigny, of Connecticut, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Second Circuit.
- Edward Milton Chen, of California, to be United States District Judge for the Northern District of California.
- Louis B. Butler, Jr., of Wisconsin, to be United States District Judge for the
Western District of Wisconsin.
Also returned to the President was Mary L. Smith, of Illinois, to be an Assistant Attorney General, nominated to head the tax division at Justice.
Butler, Chen (and Smith) went through the same process at the end of 2009, and President Obama renominated them all. Renomination remains the most likely course of action this time, as well, but the President could also make recess appointments -- good through the end of 2011 -- or withdraw the nominations. Recess appointments are rarely used for judicial nominees, though.
Democratic Senators defended all these judicial nominations in a series of floor speeches on July 29. (See POL, "Senate moves slowly ...") Jim Copland wrote about the Liu, Butler and McConnell nominations last May in this POL post.