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Senate Plays Politics With Judicial Nominations (Newsmax, 04/18/14)
Susan Estrich column: "With luck, Michelle Friedland, a highly qualified appointee to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, will be confirmed when the Senate returns from its two-week recess on April 28. Actually, if the Senate were comprised of grown-ups who work for us, instead of grown-ups who act like children, she would have been confirmed before the recess, but that's not the way things are going in the Senate."

Senate Should Quickly Confirm Circuit Nominees, Like in 2006 Midterm Year (People For blog, 04/16/14)
"Because Republicans are now filibustering every judicial nominee and generally requiring hours of needless "post-cloture debate" before an actual confirmation vote can be held, it has been harder than ever to "clear the calendar" (which is Senate lingo for "hold confirmation votes on all the nominees who have been approved by the Judiciary Committee and are pending on the Senate floor"). Among the 31 nominees left hanging when the Senate took off for its spring recess last week are six circuit court nominees. Five of the six were nominated last year ... In 2006, at this point in George W. Bush's presidency, the Senate confirmed eight circuit court nominees between April and September (plus a ninth during the lame duck session). Most of them had not even been nominated at this point in 2006"

Editorial: Too many federal court vacancies in Texas (Eagle [Bryan-College Station, TX], 04/13/14)
"10 federal judgeships have been vacant for an average of almost two years. And that is unacceptable. Of course, Texas isn't alone. Currently, there are 85 district court vacancies around the country, with only 48 nominees to fill those positions, but Texas has by far the largest number of unfilled benches. The shortage of federal judges in Texas has created a backlog of more than 12,000 cases, both civil and criminal. That means that thousands and thousands of Texans are being denied their day in court.... Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz are doing their best to delay confirmation of judicial appointments as long as possible, perhaps hoping for a Republican presidential victory in 2016. We can't wait that long. ... we have to fill those numerous judicial vacancies in Texas, and around the country."

Obama's Had a Lot More Judicial Vacancies to Fill than Bush Did (People For blog, 04/10/14)
"Bush had 88% of his nominees confirmed at this point, while Obama only has only had 79%. One reason Obama has made so many more nominations is that there have been so many more vacancies to fill. While 270 judicial vacancies have opened up since January 2009, only 202 had opened up during the corresponding period during President Bush's time in office. So, for Obama: Lots more vacancies than Bush. Lots more nominations than Bush. Yet basically the same number of confirmations as Bush. That isn't parity."

What The Media Should Know About Those New Judicial Confirmation Numbers (Media Matters for America, 04/10/14)
Meagan Hatcher-Mays: "When the number of vacancies Obama has to deal with in comparison to Bush is added to an examination of their respective records, it is evident that the president still has a long road ahead to leave office with a rate similar to his predecessor, especially in the face of Republicans' unprecedented obstructionism. Even though the total number of Obama's confirmations has exceeded Bush's, Obama has more vacancies to fill and has to appoint more nominees than his predecessor. ... Obama still has 31 judicial nominees pending, many of whom would be confirmed to jurisdictions facing what's known as a "judicial emergency.""a

So Many Vacancies, So Little Cooperation from GOP Senators (People For blog, 04/10/14)
"Of the 37 current vacancies without nominees, all but six are from states with at least Republican senator. And of those six, only one is more than a year old. Despite White House consultations with home state senators, vacancies are remaining open and without nominees for far too long - sometimes years - in states with Republican senators."

DOYLE: Judicial vacancies reflect badly on American leadership (Marquette Tribune [WI], 04/10/14)
SEAMUS DOYLE Viewpoint: "there are 34 judicial emergencies – long-term judicial vacancies – in federal courts. This means throughout the United States, there is a chronic shortage of federal judges.... The Western District Court of Wisconsin has been vacant since Judge John C. Shabaz left his seat in January 2009, 1,906 days ago. James D. Peterson was nominated to fill the vacancy Jan. 6, but with the current impasse in Congress, he is yet to be confirmed.... the Eastern District of Wisconsin has been vacant since October 2012 and no one is nominated to fill it.... to dismantle the judiciary is irresponsible."

How to Secede From the Union, One Judicial Vacancy at a Time: By refusing to help fill the nation's empty trial benches, some senators are intentionally creating a vacuum of federal legal authority. (Atlantic, 04/08/14)
Andrew Cohen: "One federal-trial seat in Texas has been vacant for 1,951 days, to give just one example. The absence of these judges, in one district after another around the country, has created a continuing vacuum of federal authority that is a kind of secession, because federal law without judges to impose it in a timely way is no federal law at all.... Whereas judicial vacancies decreased both during the Clinton and George W. Bush Administrations—especially the latter—they have increased during the Obama Administration. The reason there are so many vacancies without nominees is that certain senators are making strategic choices not to recommend federal trial-court nominees to the White House."

Richard Burr blue slip watch Day 293: Is NC Senator really throwing in with the secessionists? (Progressive Pulse [NC], 04/08/14)
Rob Schofield: "As Andrew Cohen, contributing editor at The Atlantic explains in “How to secede from the union one judicial vacancy at a time,” it really boils down to a matter of extreme, cynical, hardball politics"

Congress: Republicans Create Excellent Roadblocks (Bloomberg News, 04/07/14)
Jonathan Bernstein: "Republican obstruction has been a lot worse during the Obama years than Democratic obstruction was during the Bush years. We don’t need the numbers to know this. Senate Republicans established a new 60-vote standard for all judicial branch nominees at the beginning of the Obama presidency; they have repeatedly chewed up floor time even when they didn’t have the votes to block nominations; and, in an unprecedented step, they blockaded three D.C, Circuit Court seats by filibuster.... If Republicans claim a Senate majority next year, they’ll have the votes to back up opposition to many of Obama’s picks. Even in that circumstance, they’ll have the (shared) responsibility to cut deals. It would be totally reasonable for them to defeat some solidly liberal judges, but hugely irresponsible for them to shut down all confirmations (or to attempt to dictate to the president who he should nominate)."

‘Blue slips’ carry out constitutional duty (Times Argus [VT] , 04/06/14)
Senator Patrick Leahy: "I cannot recall a single judicial nominee being confirmed over the objection of his or her home-state senators. The blue slip process reflects this reality, and those who care about the courts and who want qualified judges confirmed should not overlook this fact. Those who believe that doing away with the blue slip process will bring only positive change are also forgetting that the like-minded will not always occupy the White House or control the Senate. ... I have long made clear that I would not rule out proceeding with a nomination if the blue slip is abused."

EDITORIAL: Texas needs U.S. judges nominated, confirmed (Beaumont Enterprise [TX], 04/05/14)
"The crisis has hit Texas particularly hard, with 10 vacant federal judgeships that are contributing to a backlog of 12,000 cases statewide. The overall vacancies average two years, but a slot in Texas' Western District has been vacant for more than five years. A Southern District Court based in Corpus Christi has been open for almost three years. Only six federal judges have been appointed in Texas since Obama became president, as compared to 17 at this point in President George W. Bush's second term. This bickering hurts taxpayers. Compromise is possible, and both sides should pursue it."

Editorial: April 1 Report Card (Asheville Citizen-Times [NC] , 03/31/14)
"F to Sen. Richard Burr, R-NC, for his puzzling move to block filling the seat of a federal judge for the Eastern District of North Carolina. The seat has been vacant for more than eight years. In 2009 Burr recommended federal prosecutor Jennifer May-Parker to fill the seat. Last June President Obama nominated May-Parker. But she has yet to receive a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee because of the Senate’s “blue slip’’ tradition.... Burr has changed his mind on May-Parker and hasn’t explained why. Thanks to this sort of stonewalling, there are more than 80 vacancies on the federal bench. Burr should explain his reasoning or the Senate should re-examine this practice, which isn’t even a formal rule."

Editorial: The Senate’s Discourtesy to Judges (New York Times, 03/31/14)
"The job of federal judge for the Eastern District of North Carolina has been vacant for more than eight years, one of the longest vacancies of 83 on the federal bench around the country. Last June, President Obama nominated Jennifer May-Parker, a federal prosecutor, for the position, but she hasn’t even received a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee because Richard Burr, the state’s Republican senator, is blocking her. The strange part is that Mr. Burr himself recommended her for the seat in 2009. But now he’s changed his mind and won’t say why .... Blue slips, or the lack thereof, have held up 11 judicial nominees; there are also 30 vacancies with no nominees because it is clear that a Republican senator would object. The administration has been reduced to nominating a few unpalatable judges in the hopes of cutting deals. Texas has nine court vacancies, but its two senators won’t work with the White House on any nominees."

The Big Deal if the Senate Turns Right (Bloomberg News, 03/30/14)
ALBERT R. HUNT, BLOOMBERG VIEW: "If Republicans take control of the Senate in this year’s elections, it would be, as Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. might put it more graphically, a big deal.... Appointments: Senate confirmation for all but the most routine nominations would be a slog. Republicans might repeal the so-called nuclear option rule, which requires only 51 votes (not 60 to break a filibuster) to confirm an executive or judicial appointment short of the Supreme Court."

Rubio's Delay Increases Urgency of Florida Judicial Nominations (People For blog, 03/24/14)
"The situation in Florida is so dire that even if every vacancy were to be filled tomorrow, it would not be enough to take care of the courts’ growing workloads. In fact, the Judicial Conference has requested a number of new judgeships for the state ... the nominees were recommended by Sen. Rubio, along with Sen. Bill Nelson, based upon the recommendations of a bipartisan committee the two senators put together. Yet to date Sen. Rubio –unlike Sen. Nelson—has not signed the “blue slips” the Senate Judiciary Committee customarily requires before nominees are given a committee hearing. This is cause for some concern in light of Sen. Rubio’s refusal last year to sign off on other Florida nominees to seats that he himself had recommended."

A Commendably Speedy Process for a Vermont Judicial Recommendation (People For blog, 03/24/14)
"The senators of Vermont, and especially Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy, have shown the country what an exemplary process for identifying potential district court judges looks like. ... Just a little over two months after senators became aware of the vacancy and nearly three months before the vacancy actually becomes open, the White House has received a recommendation and can start the vetting process. As chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Leahy knows how important this is. Senators in Virginia, New Mexico, and Colorado have also moved quickly to make timely recommendations for recent vacancies in their states. Would that every senator did."

White House feeling blue over blue slips (Maddow Blog {MSNBC], 03/24/14)
Steve Benen: "In states with one or two Republican senators, judicial nominees get stuck – the GOP doesn’t need to filibuster them, the party can simply block these nominations in their infancy. (In a couple of cases, Republicans are using blue slips to block nominees they’d personally endorsed.) ... Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), perhaps best known for filibustering Obama judicial nominees after giving his word that he would never filibuster a judicial nominee, told Politico, “There’s no basis for this kind of contempt for the traditions of the United States Senate, and it’s disgusting to me that it’s even being talked about.”"

End the blue-slip filibuster now! (Las Vegas Review-Journal, 03/24/14)
STEVE SEBELIUS: "Nevadans know all about this because of the tragic miscarriage of justice that was the 2012 nomination of Elissa Cadish, an excellent, well-qualified state District Court judge nominated to the federal bench. But because Republican Sen. Dean Heller didn’t like the way Cadish had answered a questionnaire about gun rights, he refused to sign her blue slip. ... The system has been abused, and Nevadans already have suffered because of it. "

White House losing patience on judicial nominations (Daily Kos, 03/24/14)
Joan McCarter: "Texas, with nine vacancies, seven of which have reached the status of "judicial emergency," a designation made by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts because of the length of the vacancies. Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn have refused to cooperate in identifying possible nominees. Cruz all but admits to the hostage-taking, saying they would be happy to play along if only "they got more amenable nominees." ...There are a number of reforms Leahy could embrace short of just throwing out blue slips"

Column: Thoughts on how to fix Congress (Detroit News [MI], 03/21/14)
Lee Hamilton: "Congress needs to work, not be hamstrung by loyalty to a filibuster rule that has outlived its purpose. Other key processes also need mending. The confirmation of presidential appointees is absurdly slow, seriously jeopardizing a president’s ability to govern.”

West Texas Judges Talk About the Need for More Judges (People For blog, 03/18/14)
"Judge Ferguson discussed the importance of creating new judgeships and filling vacancies in existing ones ... He also described how the enormous caseload harms the deliberative process we expect from judges ... Chief Judge Fred Biery of the Western District discussed what it was like not having enough judges to handle the caseload:"

Severe Conditions in Texas Courts (People For blog, 03/17/14)
"The Judicial Conference asked Congress to create two new judgeships and make permanent a temporary judgeship in the Eastern District, create two new judgeships in the Southern District, and create four new judgeships in the Western District. They also asked that a fifth, temporary judgeship be created for the Western District. Districts listed in the Conference's request are among those most in need. But even within that group, Texas districts stand out for the severity of the crisis. In its cover letter to Patrick Leahy, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Conference urged immediate action on the five worst districts, two of which were in Texas"

Burr’s shameful stonewalling on court seat (Herald Sun [NC] , 03/15/14)
Guest columnist, Chris Fitzsimon: "And it’s not like the court is running smoothly while Burr stonewalls. The seat in the Eastern District has been vacant since December 2005, making it the longest federal district court vacancy in the country. Sharon McCloskey with NC Policy Watch reported last fall that in the past seven years the district’s caseload grew so much that it took longer for a civil case to move from filing through trial than in any other district in the country except one in California."

Fitzsimon: Judge nomination (Greenville Daily Reflector [NC], 03/15/14)
Chris Fitzsimon: "There has never been an African-American judge on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina and for some reason Senator Richard Burr seems intent on keeping it that way.... And it’s not because there are questions about May-Parker’s qualifications or that she is an especially controversial pick for the court. Burr knows that because he himself endorsed May-Parker for the job in a letter to President Obama on July 21, 2009."

Senators Cornyn and Cruz Don't Help Texas Nominee (People For blog, 03/13/14)
"Several days ago we asked what Texas Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz would do at this week's business meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on which they both serve. Would they stand up for their home-state's Fifth Circuit judicial nominee Gregg Costa? Or would they side with their fellow Judiciary Committee Republicans and let them delay Costa's scheduled vote for at least two weeks for no reason except to obstruct an Obama nominee? ... The vote was delayed."

Playing games with judicial nominees (Maddow Blog {MSNBC], 03/12/14)
Steve Benen: "There’s no substantive reason for Senate Republicans to filibuster nominees they support, but they’re doing it anyway, over and over again, to deliberately waste time and annoy Senate Democrats."

Nuclear Revenge: GOP Now Obstructs Judges With Unanimous Support (Talking Points Memo, 03/12/14)
Sahil Kapur: "Senate Republicans voted unanimously to confirm three judicial nominees on Wednesday after over 41 of them of them attempted -- and failed -- to filibuster each of them the previous day.... They openly admit they're retaliating over the Democrats' rules change.... As of Wednesday, 153 nominations were pending on the Senate floor."

Will Texas Senators Help Delay 5th Circuit Judicial Nominee Gregg Costa? (People For blog, 03/11/14)
"This Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on several judicial nominees, including Fifth Circuit nominee Gregg Costa of Texas. With two Texans on the committee and the vacancy having been designated a judicial emergency by the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts, Sens. Cornyn and Cruz have the ability – and the responsibility – to make sure that vote isn't needlessly delayed by their GOP colleagues.... Arizona Sens. Flake and McCain persuaded their colleagues not to delay a committee vote on six desperately needed district court nominees for a state overrun with judicial emergencies."

41 GOP Senators Try To Filibuster Judge, Then Confirm Him Unanimously (Talking Points Memo, 03/05/14)
Sahil Kapur: "Forty-one Republican senators voted Wednesday to filibuster Pedro A. Delgado Hernandez of Puerto Rico, a nominee to be a U.S. district court judge. Their attempt failed because under new rules established by Democrats, "cloture" on most presidential nominees requires a simple majority, rather than 60 votes. So the nominee moved forward, 57-41. Then the Senate proceeded to a final vote on the nomination, which passed 98-0, capturing the Republican senators who had just attempted to filibuster Delgado."