December 10, 2006
Partisan squabble keeps Lioi waiting for confirmation
By Paul M. Krawzak|
Copley News Service
WASHINGTON Stark County Judge Sara E. Lioi’s nomination to be a
federal judge failed to get a Senate confirmation vote before the
Senate adjourned for the year on Saturday.
Her nomination to be a U.S. District Court judge for the northern
district of Ohio was among a dozen district judge nominations that
fell victim to partisan bickering.
That means her nomination is dead, since Congress begins a new
two-year session under Democratic control in January.
However, a source knowledgeable about the confirmation process who
spoke on condition he not be identified said Lioi is likely to be
renominated by President Bush and confirmed next year because
district judge vacancies need to be filled.
Lioi, a Plain Township resident who has served as a Stark County
Common Pleas judge since 1997, was unavailable for comment
Bush earlier this year nominated Lioi to be a federal judge, a
lifetime appointment. The 40-county judicial district includes
Stark, Tuscarawas and Carroll counties.
Plans to vote on a dozen judicial nominees, including Lioi, fell
apart last week after Sen. Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the
ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, objected to a
hold placed on a 13th nominee by Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan.
Brownback put a hold on Janet T. Neff, who was nominated to serve
as a U.S. District Court judge in Michigan, after learning she
attended a commitment ceremony for a lesbian couple, something he
objected to, sources said.
Tracy Schmaler, a spokeswoman for Leahy, said the hold violated an
agreement among Judiciary Committee members to go forward on all
Leahy criticized the hold Friday, saying about Neff, “Can it
really be that her attendance at a commitment ceremony of a family
friend failed some Republican litmus test of ideological purity,
that her lifetime of achievement and qualifications are to be
ignored, and that her nomination is to be pocket filibustered by
Leahy will take over as Judiciary Committee chairman in January.
Since the Senate did not vote on the dozen nominees, each of them
— including Lioi — would have to renominated next year, approved
by the Judiciary Committee and confirmed by the Senate in order to
become federal judges.
Lioi’s nomination has not drawn any opposition in the Senate up to
now. She won the approval of the then-Republican-controlled
Judiciary Committee on Sept. 26.
In the next session of Congress, Lioi will lack the backing of
Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Cedarville, who failed to win re-election.
DeWine, a champion of her nomination, was able to help her win the
approval of the Judiciary Committee because he was a member of the
Sen. George Voinovich, R-Cleveland, also supports Lioi but he does
not have a perch in the Judiciary Committee to lobby for her