Tobias, who specializes in federal judiciary issues, noted that Senate protocol typically requires both home state senators to assent with a so-called “blue slip” before the Senate panel will even hold a judicial confirmation hearing.
Obama nominated Lee and U.S. Magistrate Bruce Howe Hendricks on June 26. On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee convened a confirmation hearing for two other district court nominees tapped by Obama a month after the two South Carolinians. Two weeks ago, the Senate committee held a confirmation hearing for three nominees who were nominated in June, including one announced the same day as Lee and Hendricks.
Lee has already undergone some scrutiny.
A majority of the American Bar Association panel that studied Lee’s career deemed her “well qualified,” which is the highest rating, while a minority of the panel deemed her “qualified.” Most of Lee’s fellow district court nominees still awaiting confirmation, including Hendricks, received a “unanimously well qualified” rating from the ABA panel, according to documents filed with the Senate Judiciary Committee.
An extensive questionnaire filed with the Senate committee sheds further light on Lee’s background, including the steps that led to her nomination by the White House.
“In December 2012, I provided a resume to Congressman James E. Clyburn’s staff,” Lee reported. “I was interviewed by Congressman Clyburn at his Columbia, South Carolina office on January 9, 2013.”
Three months later, Lee reported, she was in contact with Justice Department officials, and in May she interviewed in Washington, D.C., with White House and Justice Department attorneys.
As a matter of standard practice, judicial nominees decline public comment prior to their confirmation hearing.