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Senator’s claim about judgeships won’t wash (Montgomery Advertiser [AL], 10/02/15)
Vanzetta Penn McPherson, retired U.S. magistrate judge for the Middle District of Alabama: "Sen. Shelby’s recent statement that he has “negotiated in good faith to find nominees that will serve our state well” is an absurdity. And here is why. Two years ago, the state’s lone congressional Democrat, Rep. Terri Sewell, established screening committees for federal district judges in Alabama. ... our two senators have opposed all of the lawyers considered by the president from the committee’s recommendations, and have sought instead to “pick” candidates (as they have in the past) for the federal bench, without regard for a transparent process and with due regard for opposing the president’s prospective choices. Neither senator can cite a single reason for opposing or rejecting the committee’s recommended candidates that is grounded in legitimate questions about an individual’s judicial temperament, character and integrity, legal and/or judicial experience, or commitment to equal justice.... I served on both of the judicial selection committees"

Editorial: Cruz, Cornyn dragging feet on crisis-level judicial vacancies (Dallas Morning News, 10/01/15)
"When you go to federal court, you expect to have a judge. But in Texas, vacancies in the federal judiciary remain unfilled for months, sometimes years. The system is operating under emergency status from the crush of too many cases and too few judges. And Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, the men empowered to recommend candidates to the president, haven’t moved quickly enough to address crisis-level vacancies in a timely manner. Right now, there are nine Texas vacancies — two on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and seven on its district courts. ... There are only two fewer district court vacancies now than a year ago, and the same number of Circuit Court of Appeals vacancies. The crisis likely will worsen before it improves.... Cornyn and Cruz need to do better. Most of these vacancies were created by judges who left after giving months of advance notice. Yet the senators just now are beginning to formally seek replacements for some of these positions. ... shouldn’t replacements have been agreed upon months, if not years, ago?... It is most likely foot-dragging on the part of the senators .... Crowded courts and long waits mean higher costs and justice delayed. As lawyers, Cornyn and Cruz know what is at stake. Now they need to fix it."

Dozens of Editorial Board opinions

More than 70 PA Editorial Board opinions

Editorial: Senate should confirm Drozd as federal judge in Fresno (Fresno Bee [CA] , 09/30/15)
"[T]here are other less attention-grabbing partisan disputes that also tear at the fabric of our country. One of them is the U.S. Senate’s failure to confirm federal judges.... What a shame it would be for justice if the Senate continues to ignore its responsibility to evaluate the judicial nominees and then vote them up or down.... Clearly, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has failed to fulfill his promise of showing that the GOP can govern. ... cases in federal courts throughout the land stack up higher and higher. Witnesses die. Memories get fuzzy. And people lose faith in both Congress and the legal system. Fresno’s federal judges handle one of the nation’s highest caseloads. It’s Leahy’s opinion that Drozd is a “noncontroversial” nominee. He should be confirmed immediately. No wonder Congress has 15.2 percent job approval rating. It can’t even get the easy stuff done."

Federal Judges Are Burned Out, Overworked And Wondering Where Congress Is: The people hearing your cases are drowning in work because the Senate isn't filling vacancies. (Huffington Post, 09/30/15)
Jennifer Bendery: For many district and circuit court judges, going to work means doing their job -- plus the jobs of other judges who are supposed to be there, but aren't. That's because federal courts are full of vacancies that aren't being filled by the Senate, and Congress hasn't created new judgeships in many states for decades, despite skyrocketing caseloads. Litigants are waiting years for their civil cases to be heard because criminal cases take precedence. Judges are struggling with burnout.... The Huffington Post talked to half a dozen federal judges about how court vacancies and the lack of new judgeships affect their workloads. All of them said they feel like they're underwater and desperately need more judges"

Vermont senator calls for confirmation of new Fresno federal judge (Fresno Bee [CA] , 09/29/15)
John Ellis: "The crushing workload isn’t getting any lighter, and still there’s no sign that Dale A. Drozd is close to winning U.S. Senate confirmation as a federal judge in Fresno....Leahy says the Senate can “alleviate the considerable backlog of cases in the Eastern District of California by confirming (Drozd),” whom he called a “non-controversial pending nominee.”"

Judicial vacancies (Durango Herald [CO], 09/26/15)
Matt Kenna: "This caseload backlog problem will only get worse if one of those seven seats on the trial court is left vacant in April. The entire Colorado congressional delegation has introduced legislation to add two new seats to our federal court for a total of nine for the state. Both Gardner and Bennet are co-sponsoring the Senate companion bill. This is commendable, but they should also work together to prioritize filling the vacancy to be created by Blackburn before he leaves the bench. Colorado businesses need this for economic growth, and individuals need this to protect their rights."

Judges as job creators: Expanding economic growth by filling judicial vacancies (Justice Watch, 09/25/15)
"We also know that vacancies mean long delays for the people and businesses who need the courts to protect their rights and resolve disputes—delays that often mean justice is denied entirely. Now a new study sheds light on another real-world impact of judicial vacancies—the economic harms they cause not just for individual litigants, but for entire communities. The new study from The Perryman Group, an economic and financial analysis firm, focuses on the Eastern District of Texas,... According to the report, compared to the current baseline, filling the two current vacancies would create 78,188 jobs and an $11.7 billion increase in “real gross product”—the output of goods and services in the region—by 2030. If the vacancies are filled and two judgeships are added, 148,398 jobs would be created and real gross product would shoot up by $22.1 billion."

COMMENTARY: The federal judiciary, hampered by that other branch of government; Consider the example of Minnesota's own Judge Wilhelmina Wright (Minneapolis Star Tribune [MN], 09/25/15)
Editorial writer and Columnist Lori Sturdevant: "It isn’t the fault of the Minnesota Supreme Court associate justice that the U.S. Senate’s requisite vote confirming her appointment to the U.S. District Court for Minnesota has not yet happened, though President Obama sent her name to the Hill more than five months ago.... Wright won the judiciary panel’s approval on Sept. 17 on a voice vote with no dissent. She faces no discernible Republican opposition.... only six federal judges have been confirmed by the GOP-controlled Senate so far in 2015. That’s the slowest pace in six decades. It’s allowing a buildup of caseloads in federal courts all over the nation. The number of vacancies on the federal bench has increased from 43 to 67 this year .... When the nation’s pols mess with the courts, people in my profession ought to report it and voters ought to listen up."

Montez: Colorado can’t afford a vacancy on our overworked federal court (Colorado Statesman, 09/24/15)
Guest Commentary By Dave Montez: "In a refreshing moment of bipartisan unity, the entire Colorado congressional delegation — all seven members of the House and both U.S. senators — support legislation introduced this summer to add two new judgeships to the District Court for Colorado. ... The District Court’s caseload backlog problem will only get worse if one of the current seats is left vacant in April."

Republicans are clogging the judicial pipeline (Washington Post, 09/22/15)
Catherine Rampell column: "Motivated by a desire both to make President Obama look bad and to delay any judicial appointments until there’s (possibly) a Republican in the White House, GOP senators have thrown obstruction after obstruction in front of the judicial appointment process. As a result, the Republican-controlled Senate has confirmed only six federal judges in 2015.... It’s the slowest pace in over six decades .... The number of judgeships has not kept pace as the U.S. population has increased.... Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican presidential candidate, publicly endorsed the nominee for the Southern District of Florida, but seven months later still hasn’t returned his blue slip. Without it, the nominee, Mary Barzee Flores, won’t get a hearing. In other cases, the Judiciary Committee chairman, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (Iowa), has received the relevant blue slips but delayed holding confirmation hearings and votes on the nominees. In still others, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has delayed or outright refused to schedule floor votes for nominees. This happens, I should note, even when the judicial nominees are not the least bit controversial."

Editorial: U.S. Senate needs to quit stalling judicial appointments  (Pocono Record [PA] , 09/22/15)
"[J]ustice is not served when you can’t get a date to hear your case — when the backlog of cases is so huge that it could be months or even years before a judge hears your argument. That is the situation in the nation’s federal courts, where the vacancy rate is high, case loads are high, yet the pace of judicial appointments has fallen to a 60-year low.... This is not for lack of qualified candidates, mind you; it’s sheer politics in the U.S. Senate. Take Pennsylvania, which has six vacancies in the federal court and five nominees pending. One of them, Luis Felipe Restrepo of the U.S. District Court, has the support of both Democratic Sen. Robert Casey and Republican Sen. Pat Toomey for his nomination to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. Yet he waited nearly seven months before the Senate Judiciary Committee — unanimously — to advance his nomination to the Senate floor. More than two months have passed and nothing more has happened....As a Republican himself, Sen. Toomey should chastize his colleagues for playing politics and remind them of their obligation to appoint judges."

2015-16 judicial confirmation slowdowns has little precedent in Reagan, Clinton, and Bush administrations (Brookings, 09/18/15)
Russell Wheeler: "Senate Republicans’ aggressive slowdown in judicial confirmations so far in 2015—and what is likely to be a continued slowdown through 2016—are contrary to the confirmation records in the final two years of the other two-term presidencies since 1961—Ronald Reagan, William Clinton, and George W. Bush.... Like President Obama, those presidents submitted nominations to a Senate controlled by the other party. In each of those president’s final two years in office, the Senate confirmed a fifth or more of their full eight-year complement of district and circuit judges.... Anticipated invocations of the mythical “Thurmond Rule”—dictating a shutdown of nominations at some point from early to the middle of a presidential election year—will not stand up well to these data."

John Cornyn Blocks Judges From Getting Confirmed Because He's Mad About Other Judges He Confirmed: GOP senators want credit this year for judges they confirmed last year. OK! (Huffington Post, 09/18/15)
Jennifer Bendery: "Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) blocked three of President Barack Obama's judicial nominees from getting votes Thursday because he said Democrats confirmed too many judges last year that Republicans wanted to take credit for this year.... But Cornyn glossed over the fact that everyone in the Senate, including him, voted to confirm those 11 nominees in the lame duck session. Three were from his home state of Texas and he had been pressing Democratic leaders to hold votes to confirm them -- in that lame duck session. "I certainly will be urging those Texas judges, including Judge Mazzant, to move through during the lame duck session so we can get these judges on the bench," Cornyn told a Texas newspaper in November. It's not unusual for the Senate to confirm judges in a lame duck session. Democrats held votes on 20 of Bush's judicial picks in the lame-duck after the 2002 elections. The Senate confirmed nominees in lame-duck sessions after the 2004 and 2006 elections. In the 2010 lame-duck, the Senate confirmed 19 judicial nominees. The bottom line is that Republicans just don't want Obama to fill court vacancies with his judicial picks."

Justice suffers (Austin American-Statesman [TX] , 09/18/15)
Mardin Aminpour letter to the editor: "While Phillip Martin has rightly criticized Sen. Cruz for not fixing the emergency caused by the delay in filling the Texas judicial vacancies, Sen. John Cornyn’s role in creating this mess should not be overlooked. After all, Texas’ oldest vacancy dates back to 2011.... Sen. Cornyn should once again work across party lines. Both senators should right the wrong now by filling the vacancies."

Friday’s Mini-Report, 9.18.15 (Maddow Blog {MSNBC], 09/18/15)
Steve Benen: "It’s not a bipartisan problem: Senate Republicans are confirming judicial nominees at a rate so slow, the current pace is unlike anything we’ve seen in more than six decades. When the Beltway assumes, “Both sides play the same partisan game,” that’s wrong."

Washington cuts on track to impact courts (Newsday [NY], 09/17/15)
David P. Miranda Op-Ed: "All four New York federal district courts are categorized as "congested" by court administrators. That means that their caseloads exceed the average caseloads for the entire federal system. On average, it takes about two years to bring a civil case to trial around the country; because of congestion and judicial vacancies, some federal courts in New York require more than twice that time."

Congratulations, GOP. You're Confirming Judges At The Slowest Rate In 60 Years. "It's just appalling." (Huffington Post, 09/17/15)
Jennifer Bendery: "Senate Republicans are confirming federal judges at the slowest rate in more than 60 years, fueling a "politically motivated vacancy crisis" in the nation's courts, according to an analysis released Thursday by Alliance for Justice.... The kicker is that when each of Obama's nominees finally did get a vote, they were confirmed unanimously -- meaning they had strong bipartisan support all along. [Chart] ... the numbers speak for themselves. When comparing Obama with his White House predecessors, in terms of the number of judges confirmed in their last two years in office, the current Senate isn't even close to keeping pace. [Chart]"

Why won't Rubio speed process for judicial nominee Flores? (Sun Sentinel [FL], 09/16/15)
Kyle Barry & Randall Berg Op-Ed: "Yet again, a qualified judicial nominee whom Rubio claims to support is stalled in the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Rubio refuses to do anything about it. In 2013, Rubio allowed Sen. Chuck Grassley, then ranking Republican on the committee, to put the brakes on Middle District of Florida Judge Brian Davis for nearly two years before he was confirmed. This time it's Southern District nominee Mary Barzee Flores whom Grassley (now the committee chairman) is holding up, but Rubio's response has been the same: stand idly by while the people of Florida wait for a judge."

Editorial: Empty seats on federal bench a ‘judicial emergency’ (Palm Beach Post [FL], 09/15/15)
"“Justice delayed is justice denied.” In other words, failure to give redress in a timely manner is the same as giving no justice at all. Today, it is an unfortunately apt description of U.S. federal courts, which are overwhelmed because the U.S. Senate refuses to fill dozens of judicial vacancies. ... More than two dozen federal courts, including the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida, have declared “judicial emergencies.” They cite a lack of the necessary jurists to handle growing caseloads as complex as drugs, racketeering and financial scams. The Southern District in Miami is so backed up that the Judicial Conference of the United States has asked Congress to create three new judgeships. But even that has not been enough to move senators, including Florida’s Marco Rubio, to fill vacancies."

Benched! To understand the vacancy crisis, you have to look at vacancies (Justice Watch, 09/14/15)
"[J]udicial selection isn’t a political game of comparing total confirmations. The real measure is not the number of judges confirmed but whether the number of vacancies is falling and the judiciary is fully staffed. So long as vacancies are growing, justice in America is being needlessly denied, and confirmations that can’t keep pace are just a drop in the bucket. As it happens, Obama has had over 40 more vacancies than did Bush at this same point in his presidency, providing a far better explanation for higher confirmations than the notion of preferential treatment for Obama nominees. With vacancies factored in, Obama is actually behind the rate at which Bush appointed judges.... This Senate has confirmed only six judges so far in 2015, the worst single-year pace since 1953. As a result, the number of current vacancies has gone up over 50 percent and the number of judicial emergencies has gone up over 150 percent."

Martin: Justice suffers while Cruz delays judicial nominations (Austin American-Statesman [TX] , 09/09/15)
Phillip Martin: "with nine vacancies in Texas’ federal courts — and no nominees recommended from Sens. Cruz or Cornyn to fill any of those empty judge chairs — the delays are only going to get worse."

Graphic shows amazing, unprecedented obstructionism of President Obama’s judicial nominees (Progressive Pulse [NC], 09/09/15)
Rob Schofield: "Anisha Singh at the Center for American Progress has produced a remarkable new infographic on the absurd obstruction of President Obama’s judicial nominees."

Senate confirms one judge — don’t expect the pace to pick up soon (Washington Post, 09/09/15)
Al Kamen: "Despite the Senate’s unanimous confirmation Tuesday of a district court nominee from Missouri — making Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) the first Democrat to get a judge confirmed this year in his or her state — things don’t look good for President Obama’s judicial and ambassadorial nominees. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) put word out to the various committee chairmen that there won’t be hearings or votes on nominees this week. ... 20 nominees for federal district courts now awaiting action in the Senate Judiciary Committee will be stalled for a while longer. (Seven other nominees, including one for an appellate court who are already on the Senate floor may be in the same boat. Some have been waiting more than 10 months.)"

Putting GOP Obstruction of Judges In Perspective (People For blog, 09/08/15)
Paul Gordon: "A useful basis of comparison is George W. Bush’s final two years in office, when Democrats took over the Senate after the 2006 midterms. A week after those elections, Senator Patrick Leahy – who was about to become chairman of the Judiciary Committee – criticized Republicans for blocking votes on more than a dozen of Bush’s qualified nominees.... in 2007, Leahy and new Majority Leader Harry Reid worked together to make sure the Judiciary Committee and full Senate fulfilled its constitutional responsibilities. During those two years, the Senate vetted and confirmed 68 of Bush’s circuit and district court nominees. In fact, the Democratic Senate had already confirmed 26 of Bush’s judges by this same point in the year (September 8 of 2007). In stark contrast, the McConnell Senate has so far confirmed only five Obama judges.... Judicial emergencies have skyrocketed from 12 at the beginning of the year to 31 today. As the chart below shows, Democrats in the Senate during Bush’s last two years did not allow the number of judicial emergencies to increase in a similar fashion, and in fact the number generally remained steady or decreased during most of those two years.... L. Felipe Restrepo of Pennsylvania, President Obama’s nominee for the Third Circuit Court of Appeals... was nominated in November with the support of his two home state senators, Democrat Bob Casey and Republican Pat Toomey. He could and should have been confirmed long ago. ... now that his nomination is ready for a floor vote, Senator Toomey is apparently collaborating with his party leadership’s plans to delay that vote for as long as possible."

Benched! Summer is over, Republican obstruction is not (Justice Watch, 09/08/15)
"Since January, the number of current judicial vacancies has gone up over 50 percent. Quickly confirming the 20 nominees in committee and 9 pending on the Senate floor would be a first step to stemming the vacancy crisis. Unfortunately, Senate Republicans have immediately returned to their politically-motivated strategy of delaying all of President Obama’s judicial nominees. Today, Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley postponed the scheduled committee vote of three nominees for the second time. John Vazquez, Wilhelmina Wright, and Paula Xinis were initially scheduled to be voted out of the Judiciary Committee before the Senate’s summer break. Grassley postponed that vote too. ... Vazquez would fill one of New Jersey’s four judicial emergencies, which is more than in any one state other than Texas. Wright would also fill a judicial emergency in the District of Minnesota."

Fully staff our district court (Colorado Springs Gazette, 09/06/15)
Deb Walker: "Historically, when a district court seat becomes vacant in Colorado, our two senators work together to screen possible candidates and provide some potential nominees to the president. Each of the last two vacancies were filled using a joint-senators bipartisan screening committee, and the president nominated someone within six months of the vacancy announcement. This year, it appears that Sens. Gardner and Bennet are each creating separate committees that will not work together and will not generate a joint list to the president....A fully staffed Colorado district court is vital because it keeps our judicial system open and accessible for Colorado citizens and businesses that need timely resolution of disputes ... our district court is overworked and understaffed because we have not increased the number of judges since 1984, despite immense population growth since then."

In Georgia, Barack Obama’s GOP judicial nominee is more than an ad for (Atlanta Journal Constitution, 08/29/15)
Jim Galloway: "This is Dax Lopez, who was appointed five years ago to a DeKalb County state judgeship by Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue. ... He would be the first Latino in Georgia appointed to a lifelong position on the federal bench — if he survives U.S. Senate confirmation.... In a season of Donald Trump and talk of mass deportations, opposition to Lopez is also worrisome to Republicans attempting to expand their party’s demographic reach.... didn’t I mention that Dax Lopez is both Latino and Jewish?... the Jewish community is a highly valued GOP constituency with clout that extends well beyond the financial. Those critical of Lopez’s GALEO membership will have to tread carefully. Should they stray into xenophobia, they’ll have two angry constituencies to deal with rather than one."

Will Colorado Continue to Be a Model in Filling Judicial Vacancies? (Huffington Post, 08/27/15)
Peg Perl: "Three years ago, Colorado was hailed as a "model for senators across the country"because of the cooperative, timely and successful screening process our then-Senators used to inform the President's nomination for a vacancy on the U.S. District Court of Colorado. It is unclear whether we are still deserving of such praise.... True, the senators are now from different parties, but similar mixed delegations in Florida and Pennsylvania (use joint bipartisan committees to screen potential nominees. However, four months after the future vacancy announcement Colorado's Senators appear to be working on separate tracks. Senator Gardner has created his own selection committee - one that is not bipartisan, but full of Republican supporters - and Senator Bennet appears to be still working on getting his own committee (bipartisan) together. A fully-staffed federal district court is vital because it keeps our judicial system open and accessible for Colorado citizens and businesses that need timely resolution of disputes. The District Court in Colorado, which has not increased the number of judges since 1984, is already overworked and understaffed. Increased workload from 30 years of population growth, plus additional cases arising from increased federal agencies with a regional office in Colorado has lead the full bipartisan delegation to Congress to introduce legislation to increase the number of federal judges from 7 to 9."