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Horan awaits confirmation

Marilyn Horan
Sen. Toomey denies he's holding it up

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey’s office is saying that he is not holding up the nomination to the federal court of Butler County Judge Marilyn Horan.

Horan in July was nominated by President Barack Obama to take a vacancy on the federal bench in Pittsburgh. Once the president nominates a candidate, the Senate Judiciary Committee begins to do background investigations on that person.

The investigation has begun, but Toomey has not submitted a “blue slip,” which is a blue sheet of paper that shows a senator’s support for the nominee. In this case, that is Horan.

Before the Judiciary Committee forwards any nomination to be voted on the senate floor, it needs blue slips from both senators from the nominee’s home state.

According to a Toomey staffer, the senator will not submit the blue slip for any judicial candidate until the investigation is done, just to make sure the candidates’ backgrounds are clear. If any problems turn up in the investigation and the blue slip already is turned in, there is nothing to stop a vote on the nominee, the staffer said.

Once the background investigation is done, Toomey submits the slip right away. Toomey’s office told Horan of this early in the process.

Horan will not have to be renominated until the end of 2016, and Toomey’s office is confident that the background work will be done before then.

A statement provided by Toomey restated his support for Horan and said he “remains fully committed to getting her confirmed as soon as possible.”

However Christine Stone, co-chairman of the Why Courts Matter-Pennsylvania coalition, said she feels this procedure is holding the nomination process up.

“It’s not the typical operating procedure with other senators,” Stone said.

She said that Horan already has been vetted by the White House. When Toomey and Sen. Bob Casey submitted Horan to Obama to be nominated, the White House and Justice Department did a background investigation before Obama officially nominated her.

The coalition is a project run by Keystone Progress and the National Council of Jewish Women, and its goal is to halt obstruction of Obama’s federal court nominees.

Stone said it seems odd to her that Toomey has come out in support of Horan but has not turned the slip in. She said, if the slip already is turned in before the background check in done, then the process could be accelerated.

Casey turned in his blue slip in August.

“We always turn them in pretty shortly after we recommend the nominees,” said John Rizzo, Casey’s communications director.

He said if Casey recommends someone and if the White House already does its background investigation, then the senator is confident that there are no problems in the nominee’s background.

Horan of Butler was appointed to her current post in 1996 by Gov. Tom Ridge to fill a slot created by retirement.

She was elected to a 10-year term in 1998 and re-elected to another 10-year term starting in 2008.

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