Senate panel deadlocks on 3rd Circuit nominee Arianna Freeman

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Arianna Freeman, a nominee to serve as a judge on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, appears before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on March 2, 2022, in Washington, D.C. U.S. Senate/Handout via REUTERS

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  • Arianna Freeman's nomination must go to full Senate for discharge vote
  • Senate committee advances Stephanie Dawkins Davis' nomination to the 6th Circuit

(Reuters) - Ketanji Brown Jackson's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court was not the only one to lead to a deadlock on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday – the panel also tied on a Biden nominee who would be the first Black woman judge on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

As with Jackson, the panel also voted 11-11 on public defender Arianna Freeman's nomination to the Philadelphia-based court, while advancing another four of President Joe Biden's judicial picks.

The committee's tie on Jackson and Freeman mean they will face an additional procedural hurdle as the Senate must vote to discharge their nominations from the committee before any final vote.

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The committee also voted 13-9 to promote Flint, Michigan-based U.S. District Judge Stephanie Dawkins Davis to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where she would be only the second Black woman to serve on the appellate court.

The panel advanced three district court nominees: Robert Huie, a lawyer at Jones Day nominated to the Southern District of California; New Jersey solo attorney Evelyn Padin to be a judge there; and Jennifer Rearden, a Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher partner nominated to the Southern District of New York.

Biden has pushed to increase the racial and gender diversity on the federal bench and to draw nominees from beyond the traditional pool of lawyers from big law firms and prosecutor offices.

He has nominated 23 current and former public defenders, according to the progressive group Alliance for Justice, including Jackson and Freeman, a lawyer at the Federal Community Defender Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Freeman's work as a court-appointed defense lawyer led to opposition from Republicans, including one of her two home-state senators, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, who refused to return a so-called "blue slip" backing her.

Some Republicans, including Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri, criticized her work on behalf of a Pennsylvania death row inmate as well.

Toomey's support, though, was not needed as Democratic Committee Chairman Dick Durbin of Illinois has been following a policy GOP senators adopted in the Trump era of not requiring "blue slips" for circuit court picks.

Durbin at that hearing said she had "extraordinary experience," and Freeman said she believed "the justice system works best when both sides have quality representation."

Read more:

GOP criticizes Biden judicial nominee's defense of death row inmate

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Nate Raymond reports on the federal judiciary and litigation. He can be reached at nate.raymond@thomsonreuters.com.