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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

White House Counsel Seeks Up or Down Votes on Obama Nominees

Yesterday White House Counsel Bob Bauer called on the Senate to allow a vote on President Obama’s judicial nominees in order to address the growing judicial vacancy crisis. At a forum sponsored by the American Constitution Society, Bauer called the current rate of confirmations "perilously low" and stated that the Senate's failure to fill vacancies is overwhelming court dockets in a way that threatens the quality of justice.

Currently, 101 of the 875 federal judgeships in the United States are vacant. Bauer stated that more than half of the jurisdictions with a vacancy have been declared judicial emergencies because the court cannot handle its current caseload. He argued that the vacancies result in "egregious delays for Americans seeking their day in court around the country."

Bauer blamed Senate rules that allow individual senators to wage a political "cold war" to avoid an up-or-down vote on Obama's nominees. He argued that a senator's personal preference for a different nominee is insufficient justification for denying the president's nominee a vote, and that senators who engage in delaying tactics should pay a greater political price for doing so. Bauer lamented the lack of political accountability for senators, stating that "the costs have become bearable" and that "the loss of the quality of justices has somehow come to seem not to matter."

For the most up-to-date and comprehensive information on judicial nominations, visit the Alliance for Justice's Judicial Selection Project website.

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