Beth Freeman during her Senate Confirmation hearing in September 2013.
Beth Freeman during her Senate Confirmation hearing in September 2013. (Photo by Diego M. Radzinschi/ NLJ)

Senate Democrats jumped over Republican hurdles this week to confirm four district court nominees, including Shearman & Sterling litigation partner James Donato and county judge Beth Freeman for the Northern District of California.

Although the nominees eventually won confirmation with overwhelming majority votes, Republicans made it clear they won’t make it easy for President Barack Obama’s picks for the bench. Democrats were forced to use floor time Tuesday to move past procedural hurdles to secure the first judicial confirmations this year.

Donato was confirmed on a 90-5 vote, with only Republicans voting against him. Donato’s nomination first had to get 51 votes to overcome Republican opposition. The nomination advanced on a 55-42 vote, with one senator voting present.

After two hours, the votes were completed. Freeman was approved, 91-7, Jeffrey Meyer was approved, 91-2, to be a judge in the District of Connecticut and James Moody Jr. was approved, 95-4, for the Eastern District of Arkansas.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said on the floor that he would bring more judges to the floor. There are now 28 circuit and district court nominees—approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee—who await confirmation votes by the full Senate.

“It is a waste of the taxpayers’ time to go through the process we’ve been going through,” Reid said today. “And we’re going to continue working to move the backlog we have.”

“We have scores of judges, district court judges, and we have a number of circuit court judges, and we’re going to in the near future file cloture on all of them,” Reid said.

Contact Todd Ruger at