Kelley Hodge – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

In 2017, Kelley Hodge became the first African American woman to serve as District Attorney for Philadelphia. Hodge is now poised to become a federal judge in the city.

Background

Born November 17, 1971in Abingdon, Pennsylvania, Kelley Brisbon Hodge grew up in Montgomery County. She received a B.A. from the University of Virginia in 1993 and a J.D. from the University of Richmond T.C. Williams School of Law in 1996. Hodge then joined the Richmond Public Defender’s Office.

In 2004, Hodge joined the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. In 2011, Hodge was appointed by Governor Tom Corbett to be safe schools advocate in Philadelphia and from 2015 to 2016, she was executive assistant to the president of the University of Virginia before returning to Pennsylvania to be of counsel at the firm of Elliott Greenleaf.

In 2017, after the resignation of Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, Hodge was appointed to be interim D.A., which she held until the inauguration of Larry Krasner in 2018.

Hodge subsequently returned to Elliott Greenleaf, where she stayed until moving to Fox Rothschild’s Philadelphia office in 2020, where she currently serves.

History of the Seat

Hodge has been nominated for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. This seat opened on June 1, 2021, when Judge Petrese Tucker moved to senior status.

Legal Experience

Hodge has held a variety of legal positions throughout her career, from serving as a public defender, a prosecutor, in private practice, and in policy positions. She started her career at the Richmond Public Defender’s office, where she defended Roosevelt Brackett, who was charged with arson and murder for allegedly setting his friend on fire. See Alan Cooper, Man Convicted of Murder, Arson; Ruled Responsible for Friend’s Third-Degree Burns and Death, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Jan. 9, 2001. She also defended Donald McMillian, who was convicted of murder for stabbing Lonnice Wilson. See Alan Cooper, Judge Convicts Richmond Man of Murder in Stabbing, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Feb. 2, 2002.

In 2004, Hodge moved to become a prosecutor in Philadelphia. While with the office, Hodge prosecuted Dante Robinson for attempted murder, robbery, and weapons related charges arising from the shooting of a delivery driver in Southwest Philadelphia. See Julie Shaw, Daily News Driver Describes Holdup-Shooting, The Philadelphia Daily News, Aug. 11, 2007. Hodge also worked to establish Philadelphia’s Veterans Court. See Karen Heller, Veterans Court Winning Cases, The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 26, 2010.

In 2011, Governor Tom Corbett, a Republican appointed Hodge to the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency to be a safe schools advocate in Philadelphia. In her role, Hodge worked on issues of crime and bullying at Germantown High School. See Dylan Purcell and Susan Snyder, Crime Lurks in Little-Used Areas of Philadelphia Schools, The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 11, 2012.

In 2017, after the resignation of Philadelphia DA Seth Williams, the city’s judges chose Hodge to serve out his term. See Chris Brennan, Judges Will Vote, Via Top Hat, For Interim DA, The Philadelphia Inquirer, July 19, 2017. While she headed the office, Hodge oversaw a series of prosecutions on illegal street gambling. See Chris Brennan, ‘Family Affair’: 9 Nabbed in Alleged Long-Running Philly Street Lottery, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Oct. 21, 2017. She also worked with Attorney General Josh Shapiro to prosecute Democratic members of an election board with intimidating Republican and Green party voters and seeking to change ballots. See Chris Brennan, Election Fraud Charges Filed in 197th District Special Election, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Oct. 31, 2017.

After returning to private practice, Hodge was appointed to a three-person committee overseeing the distribution of funds to victims of child abuse from the Philadelphia Achdiocese. See Mark Scolforo, Pennsylvania Dioceses Outline Child Sex Abuse Victim Funds, A.P. State & Local, Nov. 8, 2018. Hodge was also hired to conduct an external investigation at Vassar University regarding innappropriate behavior by women’s basketball coach Candice Signor-Brown. See Head Coach Signor-Brown Departed from Vassar Amidst Multiple Investigations, Swarthmore Phoenix, Nov. 20, 2020. She was also hired by the Sharon Hill Borough to conduct an independent use of force investigation after the shooting death of an 8 year old at a football game. See Robert Moran, DA: Initial Tests Say Police Shot 8-Year-Old; Fanta Bility Died, 3 Were Injured After Sharon Hill Football Game. A Grand Jury Empaneling Is Sought, Philadelphia Inquirer, Sept. 28, 2021.

Political Activity

Hodge is a Democrat and donated $500 to the Presidential campaign of Kamala Harris in 2020.

Overall Assessment

Hodge has, over the course of a 25 year legal career, built experience in criminal and civil law. As she has the bipartisan support of her home state senators, she will likely sail to confirmation.

59 Comments

  1. Hodge is a very experienced lawyer who seems well-qualified. She’s been both a prosecutor and defense lawyer and practiced in public and private. Also, she doesn’t seem to be very political. If she makes it to a floor vote, she’ll be confirmed.

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  2. Looks like a strong center left pick.

    I really hope Fetterman wins in November and Democrats retain the senate so that a few more strong progressives can be put in the remaining seats as well.

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  3. For vote counting purposes this week Sen Cornyn (R-TX) has tested positive for Covid and will quarantine all week. Durbin is expected back Wednesday apparently. With Leahy also expected back, this will hopefully help glide things along to passage. A lot to do this week. PACT act, IRA reconciliation, NATO expansion treaty, possibly to codify same sex marriage, etc. on top of all the nominees we want to see confirmed. Hopefully the desire to get out of town will help expedite the votes, or else Schumer better feel free to extend the session another week or so.

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      • I think they will work through a solution. Every week something comes up senators coming down with covid or people like Sinema wasting time.

        It appears like legislation is the priority since the house is advancing many bills that can become law.

        The democrats are more independent than the republicans, so I don’t see him imposing an extended session without some imput from other senataors.

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  4. Ok now that I am back from vacation, I’ve had a little more time to dive deeper into each nominee from Friday’s batch. I’m going to slightly amend some of my thoughts now that I’ve read up more on each. I’ll leave my original grade then my new grade after;

    Julie Rikelman (c. 1971) – A… I will leave it at an A but I would have gone up to an A+ if she was 5 or more years younger.

    Maria Araújo Kahn (c. 1964) – C-… I will leave it at the same grade but really wanted to downgrade it slightly because of Cristina Rodriguez, Justin Driver & Jamal Greene all being passed over for her. And of course her being the oldest circuit court Biden nominee to date brings her grade down significantly for me.

    Daniel Calabretta (c. 1978) – B+… He was one of my picks from last year. All of this time I wasn’t aware he was LGBT. I will upgrade him to an A-

    Todd E. Edelman (c. 1968) – D-… I will upgrade him to a C- after reading more about his progressive work.

    Jeffery P. Hopkins (c. 1960) – D-… I will upgrade him to a D+ now that I see he is a black man & taking into account this is a purple state.

    Myong J. Joun (c. 1972) – C… I will upgrade him more then any other nominee from last Friday. He has a solid progressive background… A-

    Julia Kobick (c. 1983) – B… She seems to be progressive along with being super young… I will up upgrade her to a B+.

    Rita Lin (c. 1978) – C+… I tried to find anything progressive in her background. I found very little. Seeing how many young progressives were passed over, even if you just account for AAPI possibilities, I can’t give her a much better grade.

    Araceli Martinez-Olguin (c. 1977) – A-… She is my favorite California district court nominee so far. I will upgrade her to an A.

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  5. See Hanes got some decent bipartisan support on her cloture vote. Agree with Mitch (I think) who said if I remember right that progressives who want to be on the federal judiciary should look to apply to become a magistrate judge.

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    • Only one vote held today. No additional cloture’s filed or discharge votes today. Unless we see another repeat of last December 17th, & have some rapid votes on judicial nominees, a cancellation of some of the Summer recess or them working more then 3 & a half days, I just don’t see how we are going to get all pending circuit court judges confirmed.

      If Schumer has some secret plan then he is a genius. If he doesn’t, he will be the worst majority leader in my life time in my opinion. Bill Frist, Harry Reid & for damn sure not Mitch McConnell would go into the midterms with the amount of pending nominees not getting a vote.

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      • @Frank

        Even with a 50/50 senate & Dems getting Covid, he can do plenty more. There were plenty of weeks all 50 Demeter in session. He should have gay the very least filed for cloture on two circuit court nominees every Thursday then immediately confirm those two the following Monday. At a minimum we would be down to just a few circuit court nominees needing a vote now instead of the I-95 car crash pile up we currently have.

        I won’t even get into having more then 1 or 2 votes on Monday’s. Staying until Thursday night or God forbid working one Friday a month. Just the bare strategy & we would be in great shape right now. So let’s hope there is some grand master plan we are unaware of. I doubt it but we can hope.

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      • The only part I’m leaving out is the cloture motion needs to be filed the Wednesday prior because you can’t file a cloture motion & vote the same day on it. Schumer has done this before so it definitely can be done. He just needs to do it every week. I would say do three votes on Thursday then Monday for circuit court nominees but at least two.

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      • Despite all the usual excuses, Schumer could have done a lot. It’s not covid or legislative bottleneck, it’s just dereliction. Simple. McConnell isn’t this once in a life time genius. He actually led his conference, because HE’s the party leader in the senate. Schumer displays the timidity of most Dems, afraid of the power they have.
        NOTHING accounts for the huge gap of McConnell confirming 13 circuit judges to Schumer’s 6 in the same time span this year. Nothing.

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      • Schumer is an absolute disaster as Majority Leader. Due to some unusually horrible GOP candidates in the Senate, he is likely to get another chance. But I just have no confidence that he won’t waste another 2 years doing the same nonsense that he did in the past 2.

        The one difference though is that the GOP will have the House, which will make legislation non existent. The only thing to do will be to confirm judges.

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  6. Whatever the outcome of this election, it’s likely that McConnell’s reign as” leader “will be over at its conclusion.

    That speech he gave after the second impeachment vote damaged his standing with rand and file republicans. The republican candidates for open senate seats have indicated they will replace him.

    There’s no doubt if weren’t for the political skullduggery orchestrated by McConnell, republicans would not have a 2/1 advantage. Yet, they are still going to remove him from leadership.

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  7. This pile of garbage nominee is a clear F. Hodge started her prosecutorial career under one of the worst criminal hardliner DAs in the country, Lynne Abraham. She literally was worse than Rudy Giuliani in her policies.

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  8. This weekend I donated to GOP challengers to three anti-Left filthy scumbags in the Democrats House caucus, Josh Gottheimer, Abigail Spanberger, and Henry Cuellar. All three of these trashy “Democrats” sit in blue districts. I intend to search for other House Democrats to donate against, this is a great opportunity to get rid of these kinds of garbage “Democrats” in a year that the GOP will likely take over the House.
    I also intend to vote GOP for the House in my swing district as well. As far as the Senate is concerned, I will consider donating to GOP opponents of Kyrsten Sinema (if she makes it past a primary) and Robert Menendez in 2024. Menendez is a criminal who belongs in an underground prison cell.

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    • Henry Cuellar is horrible. I was hoping for him to lose in the primary & wouldn’t shed a tear if he lost in the general. I’m fine with Josh Gottheimer, & Abigail Spanberger compared to their Republican opponents though. Kyrsten Sinema won’t make it past a primary if she votes against the Machin backed bill he just negotiated. She will truly show she’s bought & paid for if she refuses to budge on the tax increase.

      I haven’t found anything that directly links Kelley Hodge to anything that would make me consider her anywhere NEAR a F grade. She certainly wouldn’t be my pick in a blue state, but for a purple state I’m fine with her as long as we got a nominee like Perez as well. Of course I advocated for leaving all of the district court seats vacant in Pennsylvania because I think the Dems have a good shot at flipping the seat.

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  9. I struggle to see Schumer strategy as well but I have to assume there is a plan to get everyone confirmed. The lack of votes on circuit judges the last two weeks (and seemingly this week as well) is just puzzling. I know there were people out but we could have confirmed Lee and Mendoza at least, as both had some bipartisan support. Maybe he’ll surprise me and make some cloture motions today once everyone is in town.

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  10. I simply cannot imagine Schumer is not going to confirm all the circuit court nominees who need a final vote, or discharge vote to…But this is getting very frustrating given that the senate seems to only confirm a district court judge here and there…….Ever since the KBJ confirmation, the senate has gone in vacation mode when it comes to circuit court confirmations..

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    • I agree Rick. Given that Durbin is negotiating to increase the number of nominees in hearings, I would have to think they plan on getting at least the 17 remaining circuit court nominees confirmed, plus as many of the 7 other vacancies as possible as well. With District courts they have mostly done a good job and those take much less time to vote on anyway, so I’m not concerned.

      Right now I’m counting 43 remaining work days after the recess, and that is counting Monday which usually just include one vote. In addition to nominees there will probably be votes on the Electoral Count Act, Gay Marriage Bill, and maybe a few other bills as well that will eat up some time. We will see what happens the rest of this week though.

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      • Even if you combine Monday’s & Thursday’s that doesn’t equal a full day. Monday at most is 2 votes & Thursday they start around 11am & are done by 3pm. They are working on a less then 3 day work week & I don’t see how that changes for the better as the midterms start closer & senators need to campaign.

        As I said if Schumer has some master plan I don’t see coming I’ll happily give him all the credit in the world. But math is math & I just don’t see the time for them to confirm every nominee by the end of the year with their current schedule. I truly hope they are not resting on their laurels expecting to hold the senate. Regardless of the midterms the expectation should be to confirm every announced nominee so far by the end of this year.

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  11. @Dequan. Definitely. Mondays and Thursdays at best can be combined into one “working day” so that number is more realistically in the 30-35 range. However, with needed to eat up debate time those Thursdays/Mondays can be useful.

    Anyway, we will see. It’s going to be a race to the finish for sure. There are 5.5 weeks after the midterms and often retiring/defeated incumbents check out early. Fortunately the GOP has a bunch of those (Toomey, Portman, Shelby, Blunt, Burr, Inhofe) and we only have Leahy so perhaps that will save us and make things go a little smoother. I sure wish we could have cleared a handful before the recess though.

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  12. Here is my final ranking of the latest set of Biden’s nominees.

    1. Myong Joun- A. Solid progressive who spent his entire career fighting for civil rights and victims of police brutality.

    2. Ariceli Martinez Olguin- A. Really 1(b). Outstanding immigration attorney who is on the board of the Bay Area ACS chapter.

    3. Julia Koback- B+. Bessie Dewar’s deputy in Massachusetts. I would have nominated Dewar here instead if you weren’t nominating her to the 1st Circuit. Young mostly progressive judge.

    4. Julie Rikelman- B. Great to see a reproductive rights attorney. Fact she is a Ukrainian immigrant is also a strong plus.
    But have great doubt she can be confirmed. Also a downgrade for being a corporate attorney for NBC.

    5. Todd Edelman- B. I don’t like that he is 54, but this is a solid progressive. Background both as a public defender and labor lawyer.

    6. Daniel Calabretta- B-. Not much of a progressive background, mostly worked for mainstream establishment Democrats. Was a corporate attorney, but only earlier in his career and was never a partner.

    7. Maria Araujo Kahn: C. Progressive background, but just too old. Still a far better choice than criminal hardliner Raheem Mullins. But with Justin Driver and Cristina Rodriguez available, this is a disappointment.

    8. Jeffrey Hopkins: D. Would have taken my chances with Tim Ryan winning in November rather than put up this sort of a nominee. Only reason why this is not a F is because it comes from a purple/red state with blue slips.

    9. Rita Lin: F. Corporate law partner and AUSA. Defended class action lawsuits for some of the worst corporate abusers in her corporate law practice. An absolutely awful selection from the most progressive area of the country.
    The fact that she was on the team to overturn gay marriage bans is nowhere near sufficient to increase her grade. Any nominee from a Democratic administration in the Bay area will be pro-LGBT.

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    • @Shawn

      If you remove our opinions on Rita Lin, I think this is the closest our assessments have been ever on a large batch of nominees. As for Lin, I think she is bad but apparently you think she is horrible so we will have to differ on her. I can’t give her the same grade I would give Chad Meredith but I agree she shouldn’t have been the nominee for probably the most progressive district in the country. Particularly when you have other AAPI possibilities such as Cecelia Wang for instance.

      It’s rare you grade somebody higher then me. I like Todd Edelman but simply couldn’t give him as high as a grade you did with his age plus the number of DC area other options that would have been just as progressive & younger.

      On another note, I saw tv talk show host John Stewart on MSNBC about a hour ago talking about the burn pit legislation. He said he asked senators why they couldn’t bring it back up for a vote yesterday & was told it’s a Monday, many senators aren’t back to work yet. Then he asked about today & was told both party’s have their weekly meetings today. Then my favorite part was when he said these guys are leaving town for the Summer Thursday. Sounds like Mr. Stewart should come on this blog & voice his frustrations with the rest of us… Lol

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      • I actually gave four nominees higher grades than you. That has to be a record… I am also bumping Kobick’s grade to a A- (and perhaps an A) after taking a look at the kind of cases she defended at the MA Attorney general’s office.
        She’s clearly a progressive. I would have preferred her for the 1st Circuit instead of Rikelman honestly, and I suspect that if we have another 50/50 Senate in 2023, she may be a serious possibility to replace Rikelman if not confrimed.

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      • 4 higher then me is definitely a refined. That’s probably more then all precious Biden nominees combined… Lol

        I’ll be honest, I was so worried about Denise Carper being the nominee for the 1st (MA) seat that in ecstatic with just about anybody that is progressive & not eligible for Medicare in a few years that was picked.

        Rikelman worked 3 years for a firm in Alaska. I’m very interested in knowing if she crossed paths with Murkowski & if her vote is in play. I have been critical when it comes to some of the strategy surrounding judicial nominees but I find it hard to believe they would nominate the premier choice lawyer to a circuit court without some belief she will be confirmed. I just don’t think you nominate somebody like her without being able to count to 50.

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      • @Dequan

        TBH, I think Rikelman was nominated for electoral purposes. If she can get confirmed, great. But even if not, the hope is that nominating her does two things for the base electorally, (a) erases the stink for trying to nominate Meredith, and (b) a hearing in early October where Cruz and Hawley rage at her gets pro-choice voters stoked to vote against GOP.

        I stand by my view that there Joe Manchin votes no on Rikelman. I would be surprised if she get a vote in this Congress, if the Democrats hold the Senate, she will be renominated.

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      • @Shawn

        That’s all very possible. I too doubt she will get a vote this year more so because of math as I stated earlier & me not believing Schumer has some master plan to get all of these nominees confirmed before the years end. It will be very interesting to see when she gets her hearing. If it’s middle October, that would be good timing for electoral purposes.

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  13. @ Dequan or Shawn or anyone :

    If Democrats yield back their time on a circuit nominee, doesn’t that wipe off 15 of the hours, or do Republicans get the extra 15 hours, thus the nominee has to wait the full 30 hours?

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  14. **Total Speculation**

    Now that Kansas Senator Jerry Moran has won his primary (doubt that he was in any real trouble) maybe now Biden can announce a CA10 nominee that has his and Sen. Marshall’s blueslip support, since Biden is more or less still honoring it.
    Hopefully my imagination isn’t running too far away with me. After being starved of any progress for this vacancy, I’ve started to make up fantasies. Anything to explain Biden potentially giving away an outright Dem-appointed majority on this court.

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    • @Gavi

      I think the Dems are trading the polls & believing the hype that they will hold, if not increase their majority in the senate. That may end up happening but I believe it’s a HIGE mistake. I wish the polls were showing they to lose 5 senate seats. Then maybe we would see some more urgency.

      To let any current circuit court seat, save the 7th (Indiana seat) go without a nominee by September is almost criminal neglect. But the Kansas seat is particularly egregious with it being vacant well over a year now.

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  15. Colorado district court judge Raymond P. Moore has announced he will retire one day after his birthday next year. That makes two vacancies for Colorado next year along with William J. Martínez.

    The senators already recommended three men for the Martinez vacancy. Hopefully Biden can pick two from that list & get these seats filled. Sundeep K. (Rob) Addy would be a really good choice. Out of the other two, they both are good but Kato Crews is about 5 years younger & would add diversity to the court.

    (https://www.bennet.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2022/4/bennet-hickenlooper-recommend-candidates-for-u-s-district-court-for-the-district-of-colorado#:~:text=The%20senators%20recommended%20Regina%20Rodriguez,Sweeney%20to%20fill%20Judge%20R.)

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    • I’d actually be ok with them keeping their 4 week vacation if tomorrow Schumer filed cloture on the 8 circuit court & 6 district court nominees pending a non-discharge vote. If the 4 week vacation could eat up all of that cloture time then enjoy your vacations. If not, then they should be ashamed of themselves for leaving with so much work left.

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      • At this point one or two would be good too… Lol

        But either Schumer needs to do something similar to my idea or we need a repeat of last December 17th. I don’t know what agreement can be reached now, but back then Schumer was allowed to fast track cloture then confirmation votes. Unfortunately that was just for district court nominees. We actually have more pending circuit court nominees right now.

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  16. I remember that one. He did a smaller version of the same thing in March too. I don’t think it was anything special, mostly just that he threatened to keep them in session the next day or two if they didn’t relent on the 5 votes per day limit, and McConnell agreed so they could go home for Christmas. I know there were cloture votes for two Circuit judges (I think Holly Thomas and Gabriel Sanchez) in there too but they had to wait until January for confirmation.

    Does anyone know if there’s ever been more than two cloture votes for circuit judges at once? I know Schumer has done two a couple of times this session but I’m curious if Trump or Obama ever did 3-4 at a time or more.

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  17. Well, Schumer just teed up the Desai nomination for debate at a time to be agreed with the minority leader. Very curious following similar fast tracking of her nomination through SJC on a voice vote. I have to wonder if this is all in attempt to please Sinema, as her vote is so coveted on the inflation reduction act..

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    • Well even though Desai is out of order & bypassing numerous other circuit court nominees, at least I know Schumer has a pulse. I still want to see the streak of 3,122 days without a black man being confirmed to any circuit court end. This week would be a great week to confirm Andre Mathis.

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  18. If Desai nomination is moving that fast (and ahead of all the others), that scares me…..Why, because that means the GOP is trying to give something to Senator Sinema so she kills the Inflation/climate bill….

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