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Four tapped for federal courts advance, but 3rd Circuit nominee is stuck

The Senate Judiciary Committee tied over the appointment of Arianna Freeman, a federal public defender.

WASHINGTON (CN) — Working double time to get judicial nominees before the full Senate during a historic time for the Supreme Court, the Judiciary Committee gave its seal of approval Monday to four Democratic contenders but tied over an appeals court nominee.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's ascension to the Supreme Court has all but dominated Capitol Hill for the last several weeks, but the panel managed late this afternoon to swiftly advance the nomination of three district court nominees, as well as a nominee to the Sixth Circuit. Arianna Freeman's nomination to serve on the Third Circuit meanwhile was left in a tie.

Freeman is a managing attorney with the Federal Community Defender Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, an organization she's worked for since 2009.

During her nomination hearing before the committee last month, Republican senators took issue with Freeman's history as a court-appointed attorney and criticized her work in that capacity defending clients charged with murder and violent crimes.

Senator Ted Cruz accused Freeman of “siding with capital murderers and ignoring the law," and referenced her nomination as part of a "strategy from the Democrats to abolish the police."

“There’s a reason we see crime rates and murder rates and carjacking rates skyrocketing across this country. Because the job of a judge is to follow the law not to be a zealot pursuing a political agenda,” the Texas Republican said back in March.

The committee voted 10-10 on her nomination Monday, now requiring the Senate to vote to discharge her nomination if Democrats plan to move forward with her confirmation.

Freeman graduated from Yale Law School in 2007, after receiving her bachelor's degree, with honors, from Swarthmore College in 2001.

If confirmed, she would be the first Black woman and first woman of color to sit on the Third Circuit.

Stephanie Dawkins Davis, a nominee to the Sixth Circuit, got a more favorable 13-9 vote from the committee, moving her forward for a confirmation vote by the whole Senate.

Davis is already a federal judge, currently serving on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. She spent three years as a magistrate judge in the district before ascending to her current role.

Prior to her time as a judge, Davis spent nearly 20 years with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Michigan, first as an assistant federal attorney and later as an executive assistant U.S. attorney. While working for the federal office, Davis held a leadership position for several years with the controlled substances unit.

She started her attorney in private practice with Dickinson Wright. Davis earned her undergraduate degree from Wichita State University and her law degree from Washington University School of Law.

If confirmed, she would be the second Black woman to serve on the Sixth Circuit.

In a rare bipartisan moment, the panel voted unanimously to advance Jennifer Rearden's nomination to serve as a federal district judge for the Southern District of New York.

Rearden, a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, has come under fire from the left as progressive organizations have criticized her firm's history representing oil and tobacco companies.

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher represented the Dakota Access pipeline and previously advocated on behalf of Chevron in its lawsuit against the disgraced environmental lawyer Steven Donziger who sued the oil giant over pollution of the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador.

Gibson Dunn is also representing the plaintiffs in Brackeen v. Haaland, a case soon to come before the Supreme Court in which adoptive parents and others are challenging a provision of the Indian Child Welfare Act that prioritizes placing Native American children into Native American families.

Concerns about Rearden's current employers did not come up during her hearing in front of the committee, getting traction only after a group of progressive organizations wrote a letter to the panel opposing Rearden's nomination.

Before joining Gibson Dunn, Rearden was an associate at Davis Polk & Wardell and King & Spalding. She earned her undergraduate degree from Yale University and her law degree from New York University School of Law.

On Monday the committee also favorably voted to move two other district nominees forward in the confirmation process.

Robert Steven Huie, a nominee to serve in the Southern District of California, was approved by a vote of 11-10.

Huie is an attorney with Jones Day and previously worked on criminal cases as an assistant U.S. attorney in California. For three years, he advised the Department of Justice's Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training.

At the start of his career, Huie worked on civil litigation at Wiggin and Dana, and, later, at Latham & Watkins. He earned his undergraduate degree from Calvin College and his law degree from Yale Law School.

Evelyn Padin, a nominee to the District of New Jersey, received a favorable 12-10 vote.

Padin, whose litigation work focuses on civil and family law, currently runs her own law practice, the Law Offices of Evelyn Padin, which she founded in 1995. She's the former president of the New Jersey State Bar Association and spent a time as a trustee on the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey. At the start of her law career, Padin spent two years as an associate with Linares & Coviello.

If confirmed by the Senate, Padin would be the second Latina to serve as a district judge for the District of New Jersey.

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