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N.Y. Federal Judge Confirmed for 2nd CircuitThe two political parties made it clear that future confirmations will turn into ideological battles in the Democratic-controlled Senate
The Senate on Thursday confirmed Gerard Lynch for the 2nd Circuit, making him only the second Obama administration judicial nominee to win confirmation so far. The 94-3 vote means that Democratic nominees now hold four of 10 currently filled seats on the appellate court that serves New York, Connecticut and Vermont. The court has three vacancies, giving the president the opportunity to give the circuit a Democratic tilt.
2009-09-18 12:00:00 AM
The Senate on Thursday confirmed Gerard Lynch for the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, giving overwhelming approval to the Southern District of New York judge who presided over cases involving former basketball coach Isiah Thomas and recording artist Lil' Kim.
The 94-3 vote means that Democratic nominees now hold four of 10 currently filled seats on the appellate court that serves New York, Connecticut and Vermont. The court has three vacancies, giving President Barack Obama the opportunity to give the circuit a Democratic tilt.
Lynch became the only Obama administration judicial nominee to win confirmation besides Sonia Sotomayor, who was elevated to the Supreme Court from the 2nd Circuit on a 68-31 vote.
In President George W. Bush's first year, 2001, the Senate had only confirmed two appellate court judges and two district court judges by this date. One of the appellate judges originally was nominated by President Bill Clinton.
The first of Bush's two Supreme Court nominees, Chief Justice John Roberts, was confirmed in September 2005.
While the nomination generated no significant controversy, the two parties made clear that future confirmations will turn into ideological battles in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
The Judiciary Committee chairman, Patrick Leahy,. There are 20 vacancies on the regionally based federal appeals courts and another 72 for the lower district courts.
"We should not have to overcome filibusters and spend months seeking time agreements to consider these nominations," Leahy said. "It is imperative that we move to fill the growing number of vacancies throughout the federal courts."
Sen. Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said that while he backed Lynch, "We're seeing a pattern of nominees who believe they have the power to amend the Constitution."
Sessions voted against Lynch in 2000 when he was confirmed as a U.S. District judge, but said he is now satisfied that Lynch is not a judicial activist.
Lynch, who was nominated to the lower court in 2000 by President Bill Clinton, handled several high-profile cases.
He presided over a sexual harassment and retaliation suit by a vice president of Madison Square Garden against her employer and then-New York Knicks coach Thomas. Lynch allowed the case to go to trial, and a jury returned an $11.7 million verdict for the plaintiff. The suit subsequently was settled.
Lynch was the judge in the trial of recording artist Lil' Kim and an associate on charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and perjury in a case related to a shooting. Both defendants were convicted of conspiracy and all perjury counts. Lynch sentenced Lil' Kim to a year and a day in prison.
In a major heroin distribution and murder case, he sentenced three defendants to life without parole.
And he was part of a three-judge panel that upheld the Communications Decency Act against a First Amendment challenge. The ruling was affirmed by the Supreme Court.
He has served as a federal and New York state prosecutor, chief counsel for the New York State Commission on Government Integrity and an associate counsel in the Iran-Contra independent counsel's office.
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