SENATE CONFIRMS KEENAN FOR FOURTH CIRCUIT[Posted March 2, 2010] Finally! The Senate today voted unanimously to confirm Justice Barbara Milano Keenan to the Fourth Circuit, filling one of the four remaining vacancies on the federal bench. There’s no word yet on when, exactly, she will be sworn in and trade the title “Madame Justice” for plain ol’ “Judge,” but I suspect it won’t be too long. She might well decide to stick around long enough to write her share of the opinions from last week’s February session, though that is by no means certain.
Okay, on to the next (inevitable) question: Who replaces her on the Supreme Court bench? The technical answer to that question is likely to be “Governor McDonnell,” unless the legislature can act very quickly. No, I don’t mean that the Guv will move across Capitol Square and take the seat himself; I just mean that unless the General Assembly fills the position, the Governor will get to make the initial choice. His appointment would serve until next February, at which point the legislature votes on a permanent tenant for the position. (As a practical matter, it would be extraordinarily unlikely for the legislature to “unseat” the Governor’s choice next winter.)
No, I won’t start speculating on who it will be. But I do congratulate Justice Keenan, a very gracious lady who has been an outstanding jurist at every level of Virginia’s judiciary.