Senate approves New Jersey judge for appeals court

AP News
Posted: Apr 09, 2013 2:01 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate on Tuesday confirmed New Jersey judge Patty Shwartz to serve on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, giving her a lifetime appointment to the Philadelphia-based court.

Shwartz was confirmed by a vote of 64-34, with most Republicans opposing her nomination. The 3rd Circuit handles cases from Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania and can sometimes be the last stop before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Senate's confirmation came after Shwartz's nomination was at first held up by a Democrat, New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez.

Menendez initially said he wasn't satisfied by Shwartz's answers to several legal questions. After he met with Shwartz earlier this year, Menendez lifted his hold and said he was satisfied with her answers.

"I've always taken the role of advice and consent for judicial nominations very seriously ... appointments to the federal bench are lifetime appointments," Menendez said on Tuesday.

Menendez and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Va., the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, spoke in support of Shwarz on the Senate floor.

"Judged on her qualifications and her record, Judge Patty Shwartz should be confirmed by an overwhelming bipartisan vote," Leahy said.

But many Republicans opposed her nomination, some citing her performance during a committee hearing about her nomination. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said he opposed Shwartz's nomination because of what he called a "lack of candor" during the panel.

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"I was unable to make the determination that she is prepared to be a circuit court judge," said Grassley, the ranking Republican the Senate Judiciary Committee. "I share doubts raised regarding her limited knowledge of constitutional law, misapplication of standards of review, and inadequate understanding of substantive areas of the law."

Shwartz is currently a magistrate judge for U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey and an adjunct law professor. She previously worked in the U.S. attorney's office in New Jersey.