Nomination of Former Civil Division Deputy Advances in Senate, Despite GOP Opposition
By Mary Jacoby | February 28, 2013 8:59 pm

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday advanced the nomination of William Orrick III to be a U.S. District Court judge for the Northern District of California.

Orrick served as a Counsel and Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division at the Department of Justice from 2009 to 2012. His father, who died in 2003, was a federal district judge in the same district and ran the Civil Division in the John F. Kennedy administration. His grandfather was a co-founder of the law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe.

He drew opposition from Republicans on the committee, which voted 11 to 7 to send his nomination to the Senate floor. The ranking Republican on the panel, Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, said he was concerned about Orrick’s views on immigration and hadn’t provided adequate answers to some of his questions.

“Mr. Orrick’s non-responsiveness rises to a level well above what we typically see from nominees,” Grassley said, according to the Blog of Legal Times.

Orrick was nominated last June and previously approved by the Senate panel in August. His nomination expired with the end of the last Congress, and President Barack Obama renominated him in January.

Orrick was a “bundler” for Obama’s first presidential campaign in 2008, assigned to raise between $200,000 and $500,000, according to Center for Responsive Politics. He and his family made more than $73,000 in political donations overall to various candidates in the 2008 election cycle, the center said.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who recommended Orrick for the seat, issued a statement calling Orrick an “outstanding attorney whose decades of experience are needed to help the heavy caseload in the Northern District.”

Boxer noted that the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has designated the district, which includes San Francisco and San Jose, a judicial emergency district because of a backlog of cases created by a shortage of federal judges.

Orrick previously spent 25 years as a litigator at the San Francisco law firm of Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass LLP. He also spent five years providing pro bono legal services for low-income clients in Georgia. He graduated from Yale University and earned a law degree from the Boston College Law School.

Orrick resigned from the Justice Department in August 2012 after his first nomination for the judgeship and rejoined the Coblentz law firm the same month.

This story was corrected to reflect Orrick’s resignation last year from the Department of Justice.

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