Obama renominates Pryor to federal bench

President Barack Obama on Thursday once again nominated lawyer Jill Pryor to fill a long-standing vacancy on the federal appeals court in Atlanta.

Last year, Obama tried to get Pryor on the busy 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but Georgia’s two Republican senators, Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss, blocked her from getting a confirmation hearing in the Judiciary Committee. The senators have not said why they stymied Pryor’s nomination.

Chambliss does not comment on judicial nominees, a spokeswoman said Thursday. A spokeswoman for Isakson did not return a phone call or emails seeking comment.

Pryor, 49, is a partner with the Atlanta firm Bondurant, Mixson & Elmore and specializes in business litigation. The American Bar Association, which evaluates judicial nominees, has given her its highest rating: well qualified. She is a past president of the Georgia Association for Women Lawyers and a former chairwoman of the State Bar of Georgia’s appellate practice section.

On Thursday, Obama renominated Pryor along with 32 others he had unsuccessfully tried to get confirmed as federal judges during the previous Congress.

“I continue to be grateful for their willingness to serve and remain confident that they will apply the law with the utmost impartiality and integrity,” Obama said. “I urge the Senate to consider and confirm these nominees without delay, so all Americans can have equal and timely access to justice.”

The 11th Circuit hears appeals from Georgia, Alabama and Florida. In recent years, it has considered cases of national significance involving water rights, immigration laws and the Affordable Care Act.

Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor who closely follows the judicial nomination process, said Pryor would be easily confirmed if the full Senate took a vote.

“The real question is why Senators Chambliss and Isakson have not agreed to allow Pryor to have a Judiciary Committee hearing, a committee vote and Senate floor debate and vote,” he said. “If they are opposed to her nomination, they should say so and explain why or agree to her hearing where the GOP can question her.”

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