Breaking with Senate tradition, Republicans block votes on all judicial nominees, including twelve judicial emergencies.
Just yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) sought to confirm a slate of 17 federal district court nominees—almost all of whom are noncontroversial and who were reported out of the Judiciary Committee on voice votes—by unanimous consent. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), however, objected to the request, leaving these nominees hanging. Senator McConnell’s action continued the type of obstructionism that has characterized Republicans’ approach to President Obama’s judicial nominees, which started with a filibuster of the President’s first nominee in 2009.
McConnell’s objection was particularly glaring given that twelve of the seventeen district court nominees would fill judicial emergencies – districts where courts are overwhelmed by a backlog of filings and empty benches prevent Americans from getting their day in court. As Senator Casey (D-PA) noted in his floor speech, this can mean that 86-year-old judges in senior status – judges who should be enjoying their retirement – must continue working as Senate Republicans delay, obstruct, and ultimately deny justice to those waiting at the courthouse doors.
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