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Judicial Vetting to Move Ahead Despite Virus Threat, Graham Says

March 12, 2020, 5:19 PM

The Senate Judiciary Committee will continue working on nominations despite new restrictions imposed at the Capitol over coronavirus concerns, the panel’s chairman, Lindsey Graham, told Bloomberg Law.

“It’s just going to be more difficult,” the South Carolina Republican said Thursday in a brief interview after a committee meeting. “Hopefully we can continue. The government’s got to run.”

Graham didn’t directly address a question about whether President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees, most now for district courts around the country, would still travel to Washington for confirmation hearings. But he said that that he’d continue to do his job.

“I’m going to follow the physicians’ advice,” Graham said. “I think It would be a disaster to shut down the House and the Senate. That’s unnecessary, and I don’t intend to do it.”

The World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. Separately, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci told a congressional panel the contagion is 10 times more lethal than seasonal flu. In a televised address from the Oval Office on Wednesday night, the president also said he is restricting travel from Europe to the U.S. for 30 days starting at midnight Friday.

A document outlining the congressional virus response plan obtained by Bloomberg Law, states that public access to the Capitol will be halted entirely, but that lawmakers will retain access to the grounds, which includes their individual offices. The plan was drafted by the House and Senate Sergeant at Arms and was devised in consultation with the Office of Attending Physician and District of Columbia Health Department guidance.

Judicial appointments have been a top priority for Trump and the Republican-led Senate as the president’s made good on a promise to reshape the judiciary with conservatives.

There currently are no votes scheduled in the full Senate on judicial nominations. But Graham’s committee approved three district court nominees on Thursday for vacancies in Florida, Oklahoma, and Alabama.

The nominees include John Leonard Badalamenti, for the Middle District of Florida; John F. Heil III, for the Northern, Eastern and Western Districts of Oklahoma; and Anna M. Manasco, for the Northern District of Alabama.

Several others were held over until a future committee meeting,

Separately, Trump announced on Wednesday his intention to nominate Hala Y. Jarbou, a state court judge, to the Western District of Michigan. Jarbou was previously a federal prosecutor, where she focused on drug, firearms, and child pornography offenses.

To contact the reporter on this story: Madison Alder in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at; John Crawley at; Andrew Harris at