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Friday, September 21, 2012

Republicans block votes on judicial nominees

Breaking with Senate tradition, Republicans block votes on all judicial nominees, including twelve judicial emergencies.

Senator McConnell
In September 2008 the Senate – with a Democratic majority – approved 10 of President George W. Bush’s district court nominees by unanimous consent. So far this September, the Senate has confirmed only one of President Obama’s nominees.  Despite this imbalance, Senate Republicans continue to block consideration of more nominees. 

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.

For the most up-to-date and comprehensive information on judicial nominations, visit AFJ's Judicial Selection page.

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