Two nominees for federal judgeships in New Jersey were approved by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, clearing the way for Michael Farbiarz and Robert Kirsch to advance to the full Senate for a confirmation vote.
President Joe Biden announced his intention last December to nominate Farbiarz, the general counsel of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and Superior Court Judge Robert Kirsch to serve as judges of the U.S. District Court.
The committee chairman, Richard Durbin (D-Illinois), said that the two New Jerseyans had bi-partisan support and could advance despite the extended absence of 89-year-old Diane Feinstein (D-California), who is dealing with health issues.
“There’s nothing to prevent voting on these nominations today, even in Senator Feinstein’s absence,” Durbin said.
Farbiarz, a Democrat, was approved by a vote of 17-4, with six Republicans supporting him: Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), John Kennedy (R-Louisiana), and Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina) voted with the Democratic majority. Republicans John Cornyn (R-Texas), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Josh Hawley (R-Missouri), and Masha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) voting no.
Kirsch, who is unaffiliated with any political party, was confirmed by a vote of 13-8. Just two Republicans, Graham and Tillis, voted with the Democratic majority on releasing Kirsch’s nomination.
The two judicial nominees appeared before the Judiciary Committee on January 25.
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.