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Flake Lifts Block On Five Judicial Nominees

U.S. Senator Jeff Flake, R- Ariz.
(Photo courtesy of the Office of Rep. Jeff Flake)
U.S. Senator Jeff Flake, R- Ariz.

There are six vacancies in Arizona’s federal courts. The state’s two Republican senators have blocked several of President Obama’s nominees to fill the vacancies, in some cases for up to two years, but now, it looks like five of those nominees will get a hearing.

Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake had not submitted “blue slips” to allow the nominations to move forward. The Senate’s “blue slip” rule allows home state senators to advance or hold up a nominee.

Cronkite News Service reports that Flake has lifted his block on five of six judicial nominees.This follows Sen. McCain’s similar action late last year. One of those nominees, Rosemary Marquez has been waiting for more than two years to get a hearing.

According to the American Bar Association, Arizona’s federal courts have caseloads that exceed 700 criminal and civil cases. That is dramatically worse than other districts. Now the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold hearings to confirm or reject the nominees.

President Obama nominated Santa Cruz County Superior Court Judge James Soto in December to fill the sixth vacancy on the federal bench. The status of his nomination is unclear.

Al Macias, former KJZZ news director, is part of an elite class of trusted, veteran journalists who have covered Arizona news for more than 30 years.