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U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein. (Photo: Gage Skidmore).

Two New Jerseyans among group of federal judge nominees delayed by Feinstein absence

Farbiarz, Kirsh waiting for Judiciary Committee vote since January

By David Wildstein, April 13 2023 5:35 pm

The nominations of two New Jerseyans to serve as federal judges are among the fourteen stalled by the extended absence of Dianne Feinstein, an 89-year-old Democratic U.S. Senator from California recovering from a case of shingles.

President Joe Biden announced his intention to nominate Michael Farbiarz and Robert Kirsch to serve as judges of the  U.S. District Court last December.  Farbiarz is the general counsel to the Port Authority of New  York and New Jersey and a former federal prosecutor; Kirsch is a Superior Court judge.

Farbiarz and Kirsch appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 25, but have yet to receive a vote from the panel.  The Judiciary Committee has an 11-10 Democratic majority.

Feinstein, who has missed more than 70% of the Senate’s votes this session, has asked to be temporarily replaced on the Judiciary Committee.  Some Democrats want Feinstein to resign so Gov. Gavin Newsom can appoint a replacement.  Last year the San Francisco Chronicle reported that four of her colleagues questioned whether he still has the cognitive skills to continue in office.

NBC News has reported that Republicans aren’t prepared to help Democrats deal with the Feinstein problem.  Democrats have a 51-49 majority, but they need 60 votes to approve a Feinstein replacement.

“I’m confident Senators Schumer and Durbin will continue the historic pace of judicial confirmations,” the senior U.S. Senator from New Jersey, Bob Menendez, told the New Jersey Globe.

There is no clear opposition to Farbiarz and Kirsch.

In addition to those two seats, New Jersey has two additional District Court vacancies.  Judge John Michael Vazquez is retiring in September, and Kevin McNulty is going on senior status in October.

President Joe Biden has nominated and confirmed six U.S. District Court judges since taking office in 2021: Julian X. Neals, Zahid Quraishi, Christine O’Hearn, Karen Williams, Georgette Castner, and Evelyn Padin.

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