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McConnell should schedule confirmation votes for federal judges [Editorial] (Citizens Voice [Wilkes-Barre, PA], 09/30/16)
THE EDITORIAL BOARD: "The focus of Senate Republicans’ dereliction of constitutional duty has been on their refusal to engage in the confirmation process for highly qualified Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. But during this two-year congressional session, confirmations at all levels of the federal judiciary have slowed to a trickle, resulting in a growing number of judicial vacancies and an expanding backlog of cases that reduce access to the courts and justice. The Senate confirmed just 11 federal district judges in 2015, a 50-year low for a single year. Over the course of the two-year session to date, the Senate has confirmed just 22 judges. During the last two years of the George W. Bush administration, the Senate Democratic majority moved 68 of Bush’s nominees to confirmation.... Four nominees await confirmation to U.S. district courts in Pennsylvania. ... Rebecca Haywood, ... was nominated in March to the Third Circuit of Appeals, where she would be the first black woman to serve if confirmed."

How Barack Obama Lost the Judicial Nomination Standoff: Or did he win after all? (Slate.com, 09/30/16)
Dahlia Lithwick: "In March of 2009, Obama vowed to put the “confirmation wars behind us” and picked, as his very first judicial nominee, David Hamilton—a moderate, white, 14-year veteran of the federal bench—for an open seat on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. It should have been a snoozer. ... Comparing Obama’s selection of the unassuming Hamilton with the petting zoo of right-wing ideologues that George W. Bush had feted in the Rose Garden immediately after assuming office, Obama’s choice was tame....Months later, when it finally came time to vote, Hamilton was confirmed with a vote of 59–39. Lugar was the only Republican to vote yes. Hamilton has served with distinction since then. ... But the refusal to hold even a hearing or a vote for Judge Garland transcends the prior trend of ugly confirmation battles .... Today, as a result of Republican obstruction of Obama’s judicial nominations in the Senate, 35 courts are sufficiently shorthanded as to be designated “judicial emergencies.” When Obama took office in 2009 there were 12 such designations."

Senate leaves bench in need [Editorial] (Scranton Times-Tribune [PA], 09/30/16)
THE EDITORIAL BOARD: "The focus of Senate Republicans’ dereliction of constitutional duty has been on their refusal to engage in the confirmation process for highly qualified Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. But during this two-year congressional session, confirmations at all levels of the federal judiciary have slowed to a trickle, resulting in a growing number of judicial vacancies and an expanding backlog of cases that reduce access to the courts and justice.... Four nominees await confirmation to U.S. district courts in Pennsylvania. Judges Susan Baxter and Marilyn Horan have been nominated to the bench in the Western District of Pennsylvania and cleared by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refuses to schedule a final vote. Judge John Younge, nominated to a seat in the Eastern District, and Judge Robert Colville, nominated to the Western District, have not received hearings. The Judiciary Committee also has not scheduled a hearing for Rebecca Haywood, who was nominated in March to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, where she would be the first black woman to serve if confirmed. Sen. Pat Toomey has not submitted a "blue slip" that is required to start that process."

Process court nominees quickly (News Journal (DE), 09/28/16)
Timothy Hitchings, Letter to the Editor: "Professor Reynolds reminded us of the nomination of Merrick Garland, which the Senate has been neglecting for six months. Here's an answer to that: Amend the Constitution to require that the Senate vote on a president's judicial nomination within 50 days (while the Senate is in session). If the Senate neglects its duty, the nominee takes his or her seat on the bench."

Delay of Obama nominee for Eastern District federal judgeship hits five months (Progressive Pulse [NC], 09/28/16)
Melissa Boughton: "It’s been 3,924 days since a federal judgeship in the Eastern District of North Carolina was left vacant. That’s more than 10 years for those who aren’t good at math, or, in layman’s terms, it’s the longest unfilled federal vacancy in the nation. Today marks five months since former Supreme Court of North Carolina Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson was nominated by President Barack Obama to fill the vacancy and five months since North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr announced he would block her nomination.... it’s the people and the businesses in the Eastern District who continue to suffer – not the president on his last leg. The U.S. Courts declared a judicial emergency there years ago. Timmons-Goodson has earned the American Bar Association’s highest rating of “well-qualified,” and would be the first person of color to serve as a federal judge in the state’s eastern district. In the words of Glenn Sugameli, a senior staff attorney at Defenders of Wildlife and expert in federal judicial selection, “It is literally true that justice delayed is justice denied.”"

Justice delayed is justice denied (WIZM [WI], 09/28/16)
Program Director, Scott Robert Shaw: "Justice delayed is justice denied. That is why it is important to fill vacancies on our courts. It has now been an unprecedented 6 months since President Obama nominated Merrick Garland for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. Until now, a U.S. Supreme Court nominee has never had to wait more than 125 days for a confirmation vote. Republicans who control Congress say the confirmation hearing should wait until after Obama's term ends. But 17 Supreme Court justices have been confirmed during an election year, including current Justice Kennedy, a nominee of President Reagan, confirmed by a Democratic Senate 1988, a presidential election year. But senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin is among those continuing to refuse to schedule a hearing. Johnson also continues to block the nomination of another justice, Donald Schott, who has been nominated for what is called “the Wisconsin seat” on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. This vacancy is the longest in the nation. It has been 2500 days since the opening was announced, but still no confirmation hearing has been scheduled. It is important that our courts not have empty seats. Our members of Congress need to do their jobs, so our courts can properly do theirs."

Editorial: 'New page' as do-nothing as old page in Congress (Journal Star [Peoria, IL], 09/28/16)
"Not only can't the Senate deal with the president's nominee to fill one of the longest vacancies on the U.S. Supreme Court in the modern era, it's confirming other federal judges at the slowest pace since Joe McCarthy was drinking excessively and seeing communists around every corner."

Edit Memo: The Numbers Make Clear: Republican Senators Still Refuse to Do Their Jobs (People For blog, 09/27/16)
Paul Gordon: "Since the Senate returned three weeks ago: McConnell has not allowed a vote on any judicial nominees. The number of Article III vacancies is now 91 (one Supreme Court, 12 circuit courts, 76 district courts, and two Court of International Trade), a vacancy rate about double of that when the GOP took over the Senate last year. The number of vacancies officially designated as emergencies has increased to 35. The number of Article III judicial nominees languishing on the Senate floor without a vote has increased to 25 In fact, McConnell has allowed only six judicial confirmation votes in the past six months. Only 20 circuit and district courts and two International Trade nominees have been confirmed so far this entire Congress, which is breathtakingly low by historical standards. Senate GOP leaders could have done what Democratic leaders did at the same point eight years ago, two months before the election to replace George W. Bush. During the month of September, then-chairman Patrick Leahy held committee hearings and votes for ten Bush nominees, and then-Majority Leader Harry Reid arranged for all ten to be confirmed at the same time by unanimous consent on September 26."

Charting Senate dysfunction (Washington Post, 09/27/16)
Catherine Rampell: "So far, just 11 Article III judges have been confirmed this year, the same number confirmed in 2015. That is the fewest judges getting through the process since 1960. And note that in 1960, there were only about a third as many total authorized Article III judgeships as there are today, meaning that the Senate likely had fewer openings to fill back then. If you’re looking at confirmations over the full course of a two-year Congress (rather than a single calendar year, as charted above), this Senate is currently on pace to have the lowest number of confirmed judges since 1951-1952."

Another year of Congress, another string of broken promises (Washington Post, 09/27/16)
Catherine Rampell column: "Under Republican leadership, the Senate is on track to work the fewest number of days in a session in six decades. It also took the longest summer recess in the modern era. It can’t get anyone confirmed, either. Merrick Garland, President Obama’s Supreme Court pick, famously can’t get a hearing, but he’s hardly the only nominee being snubbed. The Republican-led Senate has confirmed just 22 federal judges this Congress, putting it on pace for the lowest number of confirmed judges since the 1951-1952 Congress, according to the Alliance for Justice. For context, the Senate had confirmed more than three times as many judges by this point in the final Congresses of previous two-term presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan. In all these cases, mind you, presidents had also faced Senates controlled by the opposing party."

A Presidential Debate Question That Must Be Asked (American Constitution Society Blog, 09/26/16)
Caroline Fredrickson: "If you were president of the United States, how would you work with the Senate to avoid gridlock over confirmation of Chief Judge Merrick Garland or other judicial nominations in a process that currently threatens a shutdown of the federal bench? ... We are in the middle of a Constitutional crisis when it comes to judicial nominations. Not only because of the politics of it all, which are despicable, but because every day Americans are seeing justice delayed as cases languish, sometimes for years, because there simply are not enough judges to hear them. Put simply, Americans are not getting their day in court. Let’s take a look at the numbers to illustrate just how dire the situation is. More than 10 percent of federal judgeships are vacant. There are over 100 current and known future Article III judicial vacancies – a near record number. A third of these vacancies are considered judicial emergencies by the nonpartisan Judicial Conference. And the numbers are only getting worse. Since just last year, the number of current vacancies has more than doubled, while the number of judicial emergencies has nearly tripled. But leaders in the Senate are picking politics over justice."

Give Judge Gallagher a final vote (Baltimore Sun, 09/26/16)
Prof. Carl Tobias: "On Sept. 8, 2015, President Barack Obama nominated Stephanie Gallagher, who has served as a U.S. Magistrate Judge in the District of Maryland since 2011, for a vacancy on the district of Maryland. Judge Gallagher is a well qualified, mainstream nominee who enjoys the powerful support of Maryland Democratic Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Judge Gallagher on Oct. 29 without dissent. However, the nominee has languished on the floor ever since, principally due to GOP leaders' refusal to allow her confirmation debate and vote. Because Judge Gallagher is an experienced, consensus nominee and the district of Maryland needs this vacancy filled, the Senate must promptly conduct her final debate and vote.... Several Democratic senators have sought unanimous consent to vote on Judge Gallagher and 18 remaining district nominees who also need final votes, but Republicans have objected. If the GOP follows regular order, Judge Gallagher will apparently receive a floor ballot soon."

Give Garland a hearing (Springfield News-Leader [MO], 09/25/16)
Barry Ulrich, Letter to the Editor: "Before the November elections, I challenge Roy Blunt and Mitch McConnell to convene a Senate hearing for Merrick Garland, ... who was constitutionally nominated to fill the position of the late Justice Scalia. For a party that spouts the Constitution, McConnell and Blunt have failed to do their sworn constitutional duty. There are also 90 judicial vacancies that the Senate has failed to address."

80 PENNSYLVANIA NEWSPAPER EDITORIALS: FILL FEDERAL JUDICIAL VACANCIES (, 09/23/16)
80 PA Editorial Board opinions from 20 newspapers

Another View -- Elizabeth Wydra: The promise and progress of the U.S. Constitution (New Hampshire Union Leader, 09/23/16)
"The promise of justice, for example, is threatened by the unprecedented breach by Senate Republicans of their constitutional responsibilities regarding judicial nominations. Since Republicans took control of the Senate in 2015, they have confirmed just 22 judicial nominees — a record low since the 1950s when the judiciary was half its current size. That leaves 90 vacancies on federal courts around the nation, 35 representing judicial emergencies, meaning they are vastly overburdened. These vacancies don’t just affect the nominees. They affect everyone. The speedy trial rights of criminal defendants are threatened. Civil cases are delayed. And citizens are denied timely justice on a range of issues including civil rights, clean air and water, corporate responsibility and reproductive rights. Perhaps the most well known of those vacant seats is the one on the Supreme Court, rendering the Court unable to reach decisions in tied cases."

Comment | Promise of regular order in Senate (Courier-Journal [KY] , 09/22/16)
Prof. Carl Tobias: "It is past time for the GOP-led chamber to fulfill its constitutional duty for advising and consenting on President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees. Once Republicans captured a Senate majority, the leaders promised they would implement regular order ... Notwithstanding President Obama’s aggressive consultation with all home-state senators to pursue suggestions of well-qualified, consensus nominees, many Republicans have not collaborated to recommend names. The Judiciary Committee has also conducted hearings for rather few nominees ... McConnell has dramatically stalled the pace of final debates, if warranted, and chamber ballots. Indeed, the Senate has confirmed merely 20 circuit and district nominees, averaging one a month since Republicans became the majority. This markedly contrasts to the 68 judges whom the Democratic chamber majority helped approve in President George W. Bush’s final two years. The number of vacancies has more than doubled from 40 to 89, while the number of emergencies has soared from 12 to as high as 35, the current number. There are presently three circuit nominees and 19 district nominees waiting for yes or no votes. The Judiciary Committee reported all of the district nominees with no dissent, and Republican home-state senators recommended 11 of the 19 nominees. Delayed confirmations have many deleterious effects. ... Before Obama’s presidency, the custom was to approve every qualified, moderate nominee on the floor before recesses like the one that begins in early October. The closest comparison to the present situation is September 2008 when the Democratic Senate Majority conducted hearings on and confirmed 10 Bush district nominees in that month. The GOP leaders can start rectifying the vacancy crisis and restoring regular order by according all nominees on the floor votes before leaving to campaign."

Tom Cotton saying no (again)  (Arkansas Times, 09/22/16)
"Just say no: Republican U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton is keeping up his one-man blockade of five judges to fill vacant seats on the Court of Federal Claims, the venue for citizens to file claims against the U.S. government for matters such as tax disputes and government contracts. The nominees have been held up for two years, despite the fact that the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee has twice approved them unanimously. The chief judge of the claims court has said it badly needs the vacancies filled. But Cotton, who again last week blocked a vote on the confirmation, is interested in obstruction for obstruction's sake. At the moment, the court contains eight Republican appointees and three Democrats, and adding President Obama's five nominees would even the balance. Cotton insists the court's caseload doesn't warrant filling the vacancies."

JUDICIAL VACANCY HURTING ORDINARY AMERICANS BUT MITCH MCCONNELL DOESN’T CARE (Moderate Voice, 09/22/16)
Scott Crass: "There is a Judicial crisis in America and Mitch McConnell doesn’t care. Senators are not doing their jobs or fulfilling their Constitutional responsibilities and Senate leaders cite statistics that totally ignore the severity of the crisis.... in the nearly 21 months since Republicans have taken control of the Senate. They have confirmed 22 nominees, essentially one for each month. Conversely, 68 of President George W. Bush’s nominees were confirmed during the same period and that was when the opposite party controlled the Senate. Worse, Republicans have sought to obfuscate that with disingenuous talking points and technicalities .... Another judge from Tennessee has been on the docket for nearly a year. ... Judges are being slow walked for no apparent reason."

Mitch McConnell Just Tried Skipping Over Cory Booker’s Judicial Nominee Again: Instead of trying to compromise, the Majority Leader’s proposed votes are becoming more partisan. (Medium, 09/21/16)
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights: "Sen. Cory Booker, D. N.J., spoke on the Senate floor on Tuesday about ... obstruction at all levels of the federal judiciary, including district and circuit court nominees pending on the Senate floor.... On September 7, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R. Ky., tried skipping over his nominee to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey (Julien Neals), in addition to a Tennessee nominee (Edward Stanton III) by offering a “bipartisan package” of four nominees equally from Republican and Democratic states. Neals and Stanton have been waiting longest for a vote on the floor. And they happen to both be African American. Booker rightly pointed out the obvious: The perception of skipping over those two nominees in particular should be problematic for everyone. On Tuesday, Booker tried getting votes on the next seven nominees in line — including Neals and Stanton — but McConnell said no. McConnell cited figures comparing the number of judges President Obama and President George W. Bush have had confirmed — a meaningless comparison given the number of vacancies they faced — and offered a different package of nominees. Unlike his bipartisan package two weeks before, these four nominees were more partisan — and skipped over Booker’s nominee, whose vacancy is now an emergency.... Every district court nominee currently pending on the Senate floor was voice-voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and every nominee on the floor — ones recommended by both Democrats and Republicans — have the support of their home-state senators (including 16 Republicans)."

Sen. Cory Booker calls out Republicans for blocking Black judicial nominees (Shareblue, 09/20/16)
Tommy Christopher: "Sen. Cory Booker took to the floor to fight for the nominations of Judge Julien Neals to the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, and of Judge Edward L. Stanton III to the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, both of whom were nominated well over a year ago, and both of whom were long ago approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. [Booker said] 'There’s no credible reason why we’re not moving forward, besides partisanship. I just can’t see it. So I would like to rise again and make this request for unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to executive session to consider the following nominations. Regular order would mean that we would go to these two judges who happen to be qualified African-Americans. Regular order would bring us to these long-standing men who have been sitting on the sidelines now for well over a year.' Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, of course, blocked Senator Booker’s motion, ... Booker... made this plea two weeks ago, and was sure to point out that the race of these two judges just had to be a coincidence.... Republican obstruction of President Obama’s nominees, including Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court, has been unprecedented. And Sen. Booker is justifiably calling it out."

On Confirming Judges, Senate Just Says No (Jost on Justice: Law & Justice Blog, 09/18/16)
Kenneth Jost: The Senate’s Republican leadership is now in its seventh month of refusing to convene a hearing on Obama’s nomination of the veteran federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland to the current vacancy on the Supreme Court. But the GOP’s refusal to consider Obama’s judicial nominees goes much further than that. Even as unfilled judicial vacancies have more than doubled over the past two years, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has now all but shut down consideration of any of Obama’s judicial nominees. The 90 vacancies include 34 that are characterized as “judicial emergencies” based on caseload figures. The policy extends to noncontroversial judicial nominees for U.S. district courts even when supported by home-state Republican senators, according to Glenn Sugameli, who has been tracking federal court nominations since 2001 on a website now called JudgingtheEnvironment.org. Sugameli, who now works as a staff attorney for Defenders of Wildlife, calls the obstruction “unprecedented, unjustifiable, and harmful to businesses and individuals for whom justice delayed is justice denied.”... Sheldon Goldman, a political scientist at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and a longtime expert on judicial nominations and confirmations, agrees that the broader inaction on Obama nominees has no historical precedent. The record of the current Senate over the past two years is “the worst in American history in terms of obstruction and delay.” ... McConnell defends the Senate’s current record by noting that the Senate has confirmed a few more Obama judges, 329 in all, than it did for Bush in his eight years: 326. Sugameli says the comparison is misleading because of the larger number of vacancies in the Obama years.

Tensions rise over judicial nominees (The Hill, 09/18/16)
Lydia Wheeler: More than four dozen judicial nominees are in limbo as President Obama’s term draws to a close. Senate Democrats are blasting their Republican colleagues for not only blocking the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, but also 53 other judges in the lower courts, calling their obstruction “unprecedented” and “irresponsible.” “These are supposed to be nonpolitical positions,” Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary, said. “I’ve been here longer than anybody else, I’ve never seen anything so irresponsible.” In the last two years of the George W. Bush presidency, Leahy said, the Democratic majority confirmed 68 of his judges. In Obama’s last two years, the Republican majority has confirmed 22 judges. “We put through 10 of them in September just before we recessed for the election,” Leahy said. “They’re not willing to follow the Constitution, they won’t do their job.” The Alliance for Justice (AFJ) said Congress is on track to have the lowest number of confirmations since the session that ran from 1951 to 1952. Of Obama’s 54 judicial nominees, 25 are waiting action on the Senate floor and 29 are before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Judicial Nominee Backlog Still Mired in Partisan Politics (NBC News, 09/18/16)
LUKE RUSSERT and MIKE BRUNKER: There are currently 96 federal judicial vacancies and 58 nominees pending, according to the U.S. Federal Courts.... Already, the Federal Bar Association, the professional organization for private and government lawyers and judges practicing and sitting in federal courts, has stated that "high numbers of vacancies on the federal bench, coupled with increasing caseloads, are creating significant and unprecedented obstacles for the prompt administration of justice in our federal courts."... Sen. Patrick ... Leahy's staff has noted that when he was the Judiciary chairman during the last two years of George W. Bush's presidency, 68 judicial nominees were confirmed by the Senate.

Congressional Report Details A Starving Judiciary (District Sentinel [DC], 09/16/16)
Sam Sacks: President Obama is staring down mounting judicial vacancies around the country. As a result of Senate obstruction, he will likely be the first executive in nearly two decades to leave office with federal district courts less staffed than when he was sworn in. There are 673 district judgeships around the nation, and 75 of them are currently vacant. That’s an 83 percent increase from when President Obama took office, when there were only 41 vacancies, according to data from the Congressional Research Service (CRS). That’s also a reversal of what happened during the presidencies of George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. From the first year to the eighth year of the Clinton administration, district court vacancies declined 55 percent to 42 from 93. Throughout the George W. Bush presidency, vacancies also fell—a 45 percent decrease to 32 from 58.

Senate Judiciary Committee Acts on Judge Lucy Koh's 9th Cir. Nomination (Findlaw, 09/15/16)
U.S. Ninth Circuit blog By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq.: "Koh's "strong hand and sharp tongue," as the San Jose Mercury News describes it, has won her plenty of fans, including here at FindLaw and in the Senate Judiciary Committee."

Texas has a judge problem - not enough on the federal bench (Houston Chronicle, 09/15/16)
Brett Barrouquere: "Texas has a problem with judges - mainly that there aren't enough of them on the federal bench. The state has 12 federal judicial openings, the most in the nation, and only five active judges hearing cases in the Eastern District of Texas. And, it is delaying justice in those cases. All this because of the political gamesmanship and dysfunction in Washington, D.C....The lack of judges prompted the U.S. Judicial Conference, which monitors caseloads and languishing judicial vacancies, to declare judicial emergencies in all four of Texas' judicial divisions. Across those districts, there are a total of 10 trial benches unfilled, and on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, there are two Texas seats open. U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, both Texas Republicans, hold seats on the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, which would seem to make it easier to get a judge through the Senate.... Five nominees are pending. But, they need to get full U.S. Senate approval by November if they have any hope of being seated before Obama leaves the White House"

Learn how state's judicial vacancies impact residents (Sun Sentinel [FL], 09/14/16)
Jan Engoren: According to the Sun Sentinel, more than 10 percent of the nation's 677 federal district judgeships are vacant, awaiting approval by the Senate. In Florida five of 37 district judge slots (14 percent) are unfulfilled. Linda Geller-Schwartz, state policy advocate for the National Council of Jewish Women, said, "Of the six judicial vacancies in the federal courts in Florida, four of them are considered judicial emergencies. One of these positions has been vacant for over two years. Yet, some of our senators seem unconcerned that their failure to hold Judiciary Committee hearings is creating an untenable situation." "They need to be reminded that justice delayed is justice denied," she said.

Bring on the Judges [Editorial] (Jewish Exponent [PA], 09/14/16)
"The Republican-led Senate, which had been dragging its feet in considering Obama’s federal court nominees, announced earlier this year that it will not act on any more appointments until the president’s term ends in January. That effectively put Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination as Supreme Court justice in deep freeze and does the same for every other judicial nominee. That makes no sense. There are 96 vacancies in the federal judiciary and 58 nominations pending. It is the Senate’s job to act on those nominations and not to use its constitutional role for political purposes. Each of the nominees deserves a hearing. The Senate should fulfill its mandate to advise and consent."

Tom Cotton continues two-year blockade of judge confirmations (Arkansas Times, 09/14/16)
Max Brantley: "Sen. Tom Cotton continues to mount a one-man blockade to confirmation of judges to the depleted federal court of claims. Thanks as ever to Glenn Sugameli of Judging the Environment, a judicial nominations project, for the update. Tuesday, Cotton again blocked votes on five nominees twice approved unanimously by the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee to a court with six vacancies. Cotton said he's not convinced the court needs more hands. Despite the two years of deliberation on these nominations and support from his own party, Cotton characterizes the process as a "rubber stamp" of presidential nominations. With the Senate needing unanimous consent to move a vote, Cotton alone blocked it. Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy said in a statement: '... Senate Republicans' obstruction playbook leaves no court behind. It spans from the very top, with their complete refusal to give a hearing and a vote to Chief Judge Merrick Garland, to the article III circuit and district courts, to the article I Court of Federal Claims, where citizens go to sue their government. This blockade of all five CFC nominees makes no sense, especially because not a single Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee raised a concern about these nominees either during the committee hearings on these nominations 2 years ago or during the Committee debate 2 years ago or last year.' You could say Tom Cotton does not play well with others."