WASHINGTON — Adalberto Jordan, a federal judge in Miami seen as a top contender for the Supreme Court vacancy, has withdrawn his name from contention, a lawmaker told CNN on Wednesday.
“He pulled himself out of consideration,” Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida told CNN. Nelson said Jordan made the decision because of a “personal, family situation” involving his mother.
“I talked to him … I think that’s unfortunate because he is squeaky clean,” Nelson said, citing Jordan’s long judicial record and his overwhelming confirmation by the Senate in 2012.
Jordan, who would have fit the bill of another Obama appellate nominee who has an engaging personal story, was recently vetted for a federal judgeship and won a large majority in the Senate when confirmed.
Born in Havana, Cuba, Jordan came to the United States as young child. He clerked for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, was a federal prosecutor in south Florida and appointed to the bench in Southern District of Florida by President Bill Clinton in 1999.
President Barack Obama nominated Jordan to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2011, and while a vote on his nomination was delayed due to an unrelated fight between the GOP and White House over recess appointments, Jordan was eventually confirmed 94-5 in February 2012.
Jordan is the second potential nominee to drop out of consideration in the past 24 hours. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said through a spokesman on Tuesday night she was focused on finishing her tenure at the Justice Department.
Previously, Republican governor of Nevada, Brian Sandoval, said he had told the White House he wasn’t interested in the post after his name was floated as a potential pick.
Obama has begun interviewing remaining candidates for the court vacancy, NPR reported on Tuesday.
Sources have told CNN that federal judges Sri Srinivasan, Merrick Garland, and Jane Kelly are all being vetted by the FBI ahead of Obama’s announcement.
The White House has refused to provide details of Obama’s interview schedule, or specify which names he’s considering as a replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
“I’m not going to be in a position to give you a heads-up when the President has begun interviewing potential Supreme Court nominees,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Tuesday. “In the past, when filling vacancies, the President has interviewed potential candidates. I would assume that he would do so in this case. But I won’t be able to provide much information about the timing or who would be included in that process.”
Squabbling on the Hill
Democrats were expected to use a Thursday business meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee — the first such session since Scalia’s death — to rail against Republicans on the panel for refusing to consider Obama’s eventual nominee. Sen. Chuck Grassley, the committee’s Republican chairman, said Wednesday he expected a “full blown debate” on the matter.
The squabbling didn’t wait for Thursday’s meeting, however. Grassley and the Democratic Ranking Member Patrick Leahy began an oversight hearing Wednesday sparring over the matter.
“The Republican Committee members met behind closed doors to unilaterally decide, without any input from Democrats, decided this committee and the Senate as a whole would simply refuse to consider a Supreme Court nominee this year,” Leahy said, calling the decision a “dereliction of duty” for lawmakers.
Grassley, who has come under scrutiny in his role as a gatekeeper for Obama’s nominee, responded that the debate over the Supreme Court was important — but said the Senate retained a prerogative to forgo hearings for a president’s selection.
“It isn’t any different if the President of the United States notifies Congress well in advanced of a piece of legislation that he’s going to veto it,” Grassley said, suggesting that many of his Iowa constituents have expressed anger at the Supreme Court itself for taking an activist role in the law.
“Whether it’s today or tomorrow or whether it’s for the next seven or eight months, this is a very important debate that we ought to have about the constitution and about not only who’s going to be a replacement for Justice Scalia but about the role of the Supreme Court,” Grassley added. “At the grassroots of America, there’s a real feeling of ‘Is the Supreme Court doing what the Constitution requires?'”