Tell President Obama: Fill vacancies on the federal bench
Our federal justice system is in crisis. The number of judicial vacancies in federal courts throughout the U.S. has risen to 67, and nearly half of those are now considered judicial emergencies.1
We depend on the federal courts to protect civil rights, women’s rights, voting rights, and the environment. But right now the courts can’t do their job because Senate Republicans are stalling, obstructing, and running down the clock until 2017, when they hope a Republican president will appoint more conservative judges.2
It doesn’t have to be this way. Senate Republicans are getting away with this only because President Obama has been respecting a tradition of nominating only judges who have the approval of their home-state senators. Under that policy, Republican senators can stall the entire process by failing to make any recommendations. Serving justice is far more important than showing deference to cynical Republican senators acting in bad faith. It’s time for President Obama to move forward and nominate judges for every vacancy.
Tell President Obama: Fight Republican obstruction and nominate federal judges for all vacancies.
Filling these vacancies while President Obama is in office is absolutely crucial to making sure federal judges represent progressive values when presiding over cases. And because federal judges have lifetime appointments, failing to fill these vacancies now could set progressive causes back for decades.
Federal courts are often the best hope for fighting back against extreme, right-wing state legislatures and greedy corporations. Unfortunately, Republican obstruction is having real consequences right now, with caseloads under tremendous strain and a deficit of judges to preside over important cases.
Since President Obama took office, Senate Republicans have used every trick in the book to cripple the judicial nomination process. And it’s worked. Even when Democrats finally reformed the filibuster in 2013, Republicans blocked confirmation votes for as long as they could to waste legislative time and allow the fewest number of appointments to go through.
Now, they’re hoping that by refusing to even participate in the nominations process, they can indefinitely delay any appointments till 2017, and then appoint a raft of conservative judges under a Republican president. This year alone, the Senate has confirmed just six judges -- the slowest pace in over 60 years. And almost all vacancies without nominees are in states with at least one Republican senator.3 That’s why it’s time for President Obama to set aside business as usual, especially where Republicans have stopped working in good faith, nominate justices for every court vacancy, and do what’s right for our justice system.
If President Obama is going to break with tradition and nominate judges without home-state Senator approval, he needs to know that progressives will have his back. Can you sign the petition today?
Thanks for everything you do.
- “Judicial Emergencies,” United States Courts, October 1, 2015.
"Politics over Justice: Judicial Selection in the 114th Congress," Alliance for Justice, September 17, 2015.