EDWARD C. DUMONT has argued 18 cases before the Supreme Court. He’s a partner with one of Washington’s most distinguished law firms. An ideologically diverse “Who’s Who” of alumni of the solicitor general’s office, who know Mr. DuMont from his work in that office, call him “a brilliant lawyer and elegant writer” with “exceptional capabilities, intelligence, integrity and professionalism.”
Last April President Obama nominated Mr. DuMont, an appellate specialist, to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which handles cases involving international trade, government contracts, patents and copyrights, among other things.
Nearly a year later, Mr. DuMont, who would become the first openly gay man to serve as a federal appeals judge if seated, not only has not been given a vote, he has not been given a hearing.
No one involved in the nominations process can provide a satisfactory explanation.
Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee say their Republican colleagues have asked for additional time to review Mr. DuMont’s record. But Supreme Court nominees are processed in less time and often carry more baggage in the form of years’ worth of speeches and opinions that require intense scrutiny. Mr. DuMont’s record, while substantial, is much more manageable. Republicans, on the other hand, note that Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) was free to schedule a hearing without GOP approval.
It is possible that Mr. DuMont has been held up because he has no home state senator shepherding the nomination. Most other federal courts have jurisdiction over regions of the country, and senators take special interest in those nominees who would preside over cases from their home state. The Federal Circuit, on the other hand, is a national court with jurisdiction over special subject matters.
Still it’s hard to understand why Mr. DuMont hasn’t had a hearing when Jimmie V. Reyna was nominated some five months after Mr. DuMont for a different Federal Circuit vacancy and had his confirmation hearing last month.
There is no evidence that Mr. DuMont’s sexual orientation has played a role in the delays. We certainly hope it hasn’t. And there is reason to hope Mr. DuMont may soon get his day on Capitol Hill. Mr. Obama renominated him in January, and Mr. DuMont spoke with a bipartisan group of Senate Judiciary staffers last week, a possible precursor to a long-overdue confirmation hearing. Once the hearing takes place, it should be followed swiftly with a vote in committee and a vote on the floor.