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Last week the Senate confirmed a handful, ten in total, of President Obama's judicial nominees, chipping away at the historically unprecedented backlog, and ensuing judicial crisis, of obstructed confirmations. A Senate aide confirms that there are 26 nominees pending. Today's development seems to be the makings of a deal to confirm some of them.

WASHINGTON—After a monthslong blockade, Senate Republicans have agreed to let at least 19 of President Barack Obama's non-controversial judicial nominees win confirmation in the waning days of the congressional session in exchange for a commitment by Democrats not to seek votes on four others, according to officials familiar with the deal.

Among the four is Goodwin Liu, a law school dean seen as a potential future Supreme Court pick, whose current nomination to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has sparked strong criticism from Republicans....

The unconfirmed nominations will expire when Congress adjourns for the year. Obama is free to reappoint them, but Republicans will have more seats in the Senate in 2011, and there is no assurance the most controversial among them would be approved quickly, if at all.

Apart from Liu, they include Edward Chen, Louis B. Butler Jr. and John J. McConnell, Jr., all nominated to become U.S. District Court judges.

Liu is a dean at the University of California law school at Berkeley and the best-known of the four. Supporters and critics alike speak of him as a potential future selection for the Supreme Court by a Democratic president. He also could be the first Supreme Court nominee of Asian-American descent.

The math here is really confusing. Does this mean that the GOP is agreeing only to 19 total for the lame duck session? If so, they'll allow only a half dozen or so more. Is it 19 out of the 26 passed out of committee and still awaiting floor action? If it's those 26 still pending, and if this agreement holds and Liu, Chen, Butler, and McConnell are all sacrificed there will be 22 rather than 19 nominations to deal with. Hopefully the details  of the agreement will be clearer soon.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 07:20 PM PST.

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