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Early lifeEdit

Shwartz was born in Paterson, New Jersey. She grew up in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey, where she attended Hebrew school and became bat mitzvah at Congregation Beth Shalom. She graduated from Pompton Lakes High School.[1] Shwartz earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Rutgers University in 1983, with highest honors, and her Juris Doctor from University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1986, where she was a member of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review.[1] After graduating from law school, she worked as an associate at Pepper, Hamilton & Scheetz.[2]

Shwartz clerked for Judge Harold A. Ackerman of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey from 1987 to 1989. She then worked for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of New Jersey from 1989 until 2003. During this time she held the following positions: Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division (1995 to 1999), Chief of the Criminal Division (1999 to 2001 and 2002 to 2003) and Executive Assistant United States Attorney (2001 to 2002). From 2003 to 2013, she served as a United States Magistrate Judge of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. Since 2009, Shwartz had taught as an adjunct professor of law at Fordham University School of Law and Rutgers Law School.[3][2]

Federal judicial serviceEdit

Shwartz was recommended for a judgeship on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit by Senator Frank Lautenberg. On October 5, 2011 she was nominated by President Barack Obama to a judgeship on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.[3][2]

In January 2012, The New York Times reported that New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez had not returned his blue slip for Shwartz's nomination—effectively blocking her nomination, since nominees typically do not go forward without home-state senator support, which takes the form of the return of a blue slip—and that he had not publicly given a reason why. The Times noted that Shwartz "has been in a relationship for more than two decades with the head of the public corruption unit for New Jersey's federal prosecutor. And that unit investigated the senator during his 2006 election fight, an inquiry Mr. Menendez has long contended was politically motivated."[4] The paper noted that that connection has led lawyers and judges in New Jersey to speculate that Menendez "is acting out of resentment, rather than any concern about Judge Shwartz's qualifications."[4]

Menendez responded to that speculation in a statement on January 6, 2012, saying he had "substantive" concerns about Shwartz's knowledge of constitutional issues.[5] Menendez said Shwartz did not "adequately demonstrate the breadth of knowledge of constitutional law and pivotal Supreme Court decisions, such as Citizens United," the 2010 Supreme Court ruling that struck down many restrictions against corporate spending to influence federal elections. "In my opinion, she misapplied the application of strict scrutiny versus rational basis review to the questions at hand," Menendez said, referring to two kinds of tests that judges apply when weighing government policies. "She did not express substantive knowledge as to the scope of the rights of corporations under the Constitution or jurisprudence on the constitutional limits of executive branch powers." Menendez also said, "It is incredibly disappointing and unfortunate that my real concerns over the suitability of Judge Shwartz to serve a lifetime appointment as circuit court judge have been spun as some petty political vendetta by some of her supporters."[5]

Menendez, the Times said, "indicated" that he will not return his blue slip for Shwartz's nomination, effectively derailing her nomination.[5] Menendez became the first Senate Democrat to block one of President Obama's judicial nominees.[5]

On January 13, 2012, Menendez met again with Shwartz and after what he characterized as an "in-depth discussion," announced that he would support Shwartz's nomination and return his blue slip, paving the way for the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold a hearing on Shwartz.[6] The New York Times reported that in response to Menendez's obstruction, the White House had been declining to nominate United States Magistrate Judge Michael A. Shipp, a Menendez choice, to a vacancy on the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.[6] On February 15, 2012, Shwartz received a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. On March 8, 2012, the Judiciary Committee reported her nomination to the floor of the Senate by a vote of 10 ayes to 6 nays. Shipp's nomination was confirmed on July 23, 2012. On January 2, 2013, Schwartz's nomination was returned to the President, due to the sine die adjournment of the Senate. On January 3, 2013, she was renominated to the same office. Her nomination was reported to the floor by the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 14, 2013, by a vote of 11 ayes to 7 nays.[7] The Senate confirmed Shwartz on April 9, 2013 in a 64–34 vote.[8] She received her commission on April 10, 2013.[2]


Shwartz is the longtime companion of James Nobile, the head of the public corruption unit for New Jersey's federal prosecutor.[4] She has been a resident of East Rutherford, New Jersey.[1]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Leichman, Abigail Klein. "Blocked judge has roots in Jewish community; Obama nominee impressed her peers at Hebrew school", New Jersey Jewish News, January 11, 2012. Accessed April 10, 2013. "Shwartz graduated from Pompton Lakes High School, received her BA from Rutgers University, and was named Outstanding Woman Law Graduate of her class at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she was editor of the Law Review."
  2. ^ a b c d "Shwartz, Patty – Federal Judicial Center".
  3. ^ a b "President Obama Nominates Judge Patty Shwartz for the United States Court of Appeals". October 5, 2011. Retrieved March 14, 2012.
  4. ^ a b c "In Act of Defiance, Democrat Stalls Obama Choice for Court". The New York Times. January 5, 2012. Retrieved March 14, 2012.
  5. ^ a b c d Zernike, Kate (January 6, 2012). "Senator Says His Concerns With Nominee Aren't Personal". The New York Times.
  6. ^ a b Zernike, Kate (January 13, 2012). "Menendez Drops His Opposition to Obama's Pick for a Federal Appeals Court". The New York Times. Retrieved March 14, 2012.
  7. ^ Renomination announcement,, January 3, 2013.
  8. ^ "U.S. Senate Roll Call ... Confirmation Patty Shwartz ...",, April 9, 2013. Retrieved 2015-12-02.

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