Why is the Senate blocking judicial nominees?
Republican obstructionism is literally keeping justice from being done in the federal courts. There are almost 60 judicial vacancies but the Senate is not moving to fill them.
We depend on federal judges to defend civil rights, voting rights, women’s rights and the environment from attacks by extremist state legislatures and greedy corporations. Filling vacancies while President Obama is in office is our best chance of getting judges who will stand up for progressive values on the federal bench.
That might be why Republicans seem committed to stalling on nominees until after the next election. Republican Senators are not recommending nominees to President Obama for vacancies in their states. Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Charles Grassley, known for his obstructionism when he was in the minority, is slow-walking current nominees through his committee. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is not scheduling votes for nominees who do finally make it through Grassley’s committee.
Tell Republican Senators to stop playing politics and get federal judges confirmed.
Here’s how we ended up with so many judicial vacancies. Republican abuse of the filibuster blocked President Obama’s nominees for the first years of his administration. When Democrats reformed the filibuster for judicial confirmations at the end of 2013 it was supposed to help break that pattern, allowing judicial nominees to get an up-or-down vote.
Even with that reform in place, Republicans in the Senate still found ways to slow down the confirmation process. In 2014, they blocked confirmation votes on more than 20 judicial nominations that they later voted unanimously to confirm, wasting days of legislative time.
And Republicans upset with the reform of Senate rules have found another way to keep judges off the bench -- by failing to send nominations to the president. A Senate tradition says that the President takes his lead from home-state senators in making nominations to the federal bench. While senators of both parties have been slow to suggest names, the absence of potential nominees is most glaring on the Republican side.
Mitch McConnell is trying to prove that he can run a functional Senate. But with 59 vacancies in the federal courts, including 27 that have been classified as judicial emergencies because of the strain they are putting on caseloads, it looks like obstructionism as usual.
It’s time for the Senate to nominate and confirm judges in a timely manner, not play politics with the justice system.
Thanks for standing up for the integrity of our federal courts.