This vote was on a procedural motion to cut off debate and allow a final vote to confirm the appointment of Andrew Hurwitz to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
President Obama nominated Hurwitz for appointment to the court in November 2011, but a vote on his confirmation was delayed as part of a larger disagreement over nominations between Senate Republicans and the White House. While Senate Republicans were in the minority, they had enough members to use Senate rules to delay nominations indefinitely, and they had used this power to block many of President Obama’s nominations.
Supporters of Hurwitz’s appointment argued that he had built a sterling career as an attorney and justice on the Arizona Supreme Court. They noted that the American Bar Association had unanimously rated him “well qualified” for the federal judiciary.
“Justice Hurwitz has built a distinguished record while serving on the Arizona Supreme Court,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said. “Time and again, he has demonstrated an extraordinary capacity for analysis, thoughtfulness, and insight when facing the most complex and challenging questions of law. He has the qualifications, both professionally and personally, to be a great federal judge.”
Opponents of Hurwitz’s appointment criticized his legal work and articles he had written that appeared to favor abortion rights and oppose the death penalty. They argued that confirming Hurwitz would mean adding a “liberal” to the federal bench who would use his position to advocate his personal views.
“I believe there is strong evidence that Justice Hurwitz is unable to differentiate between his personal views and his responsibility as a judge,” Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) said. “I believe Judge Hurwitz’s record suggests that he allows his own personal policy preference to seep into his judicial decision-making.”
The Senate approved the motion to end debate by a vote of 60-31. Voting “yea” were 52 Democrats and 8 Republicans. Voting “nay” were 30 Republicans and 1 Democrat. As a result, the Senate ended debate on Andrew Hurwitz’s nomination and cleared the way for a final vote to confirm him. The next day, the Senate approved his nomination by a voice vote. As a result, Andrew Hurwitz was seated as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.