Editorials and Opinion
Republicans Use Senate Backlog They Created To Extort Tax Cuts For The Super-Rich (Think Progress, 12/01/10)
Ian Millhiser: "it’s been more than two months since the Senate has held a single judicial confirmation vote, even though 34 nominees have already cleared the Judiciary Committee, 26 of them unanimously. Indeed, President Obama’s judges have been confirmed slower than any president’s in recent memory — and at less than half the rate of President Bush’s nominees."
Editorial: Senate needs to get moving and vote on nominees (Arizona Republic, 12/01/10)
"Judges on the 9th Circuit, including some appointed by Ronald Reagan and the two Bush presidents, want the Senate to act.
Arizona Sens. Jon Kyl and John McCain have a particular interest here.
Arizona federal Judge Mary Murguia is one 23 federal judicial nominees who are awaiting an up-or-down vote in the Senate. All have been reported out of the Judiciary Committee. All are considered qualified. But full Senate votes are being stalled by Republicans.... Kyl and McCain should use their stature to persuade Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell to allow votes on Murguia and the other judges during the lame-duck session."
Editorial: Act now; Judicial nominees deserve vote (Tulsa World [OK] , 12/01/10)
"Americans would have to return to the first term of President George Washington to find a more dismal confirmation rate for federal judges.
The obstructionism displayed by the U.S. Senate over the past two years has resulted in a confirmation rate of only 43 percent for President Barack Obama's nominations to federal judicial posts. So far, only 41 judges for trial court and appellate posts have been confirmed. ... Republican obstructionism is paralyzing the judicial system. At the same junction in their first terms, President Bill Clinton had 128 nominees confirmed and President George W. Bush had 100 confirmed.
It's time for the Senate, over the balance of this lame-duck session, to quit playing games and to give well-qualified judicial nominees a confirmation vote on the Senate floor."
Political Animal: Train Wreck, Part Two (Baltimore City Paper, 12/01/10)
Brian Morton column: "The other way it’s obvious the GOP doesn’t believe in the legitimacy of a Democratic president is via its obstruction of judicial nominees. A president’s judicial choices can affect the country for decades to come, and the culture warriors of the Right would rather see no new judges than the possibility of any judges who may be more liberal than the status quo after eight years of George W. Bush.
Due to obstructionism and “secret holds,” the Republican minority in the Senate has brought the confirmation process to a grinding halt. As of this past September, Obama has had only 41 of his judicial nominees confirmed. At the same point in their presidencies, Jimmy Carter had 60 confirmations and Bill Clinton had 98 (a number that would also grind to a halt before the start of his second term). Meanwhile, George H.W. Bush had 65, his son George W. had 77, and Ronald Reagan had 80 judges confirmed by the mid-point of their first terms."
JUDICIAL VACANCIES: Senate should act on pending nominees (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel [WI], 11/29/10)
Glenn Sugameli Letter to the Editor: "as judicial vacancies soared to over 100, current and retired Republican-appointed federal judges have urged the Senate to stop delaying and act now on all the pending nominees.
Floor votes on some of the 50 judicial emergencies, including the Western District of Wisconsin (Louis Butler Jr.) and 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (Goodwin Liu and Mary Murguia), could also add African-American, Asian-American and Latina judges, respectively.
Among 23 nominees awaiting floor votes are 10 women and 13 people of color (some are both)."
Editorial: Will GOP sabotage the economy? Again? (St. Louis Post-Dispatch [MO] , 11/27/10)
"A party that is dragging feet on a nuclear arms treaty and is blocking confirmation of 23 badly needed federal judges and two dozen executive branch nominees and that may be willing to imperil the nation next spring over raising the debt ceiling would have no trouble playing games with economic recovery."
Congress must act to fill court vacancies (Baltimore Sun, 11/26/10)
Prof. Carl Tobias: "Nationwide, Mr. Obama has nominated 71 highly competent district court candidates. The chamber has confirmed 24; it must promptly approve the 17 waiting for floor action and complete processing of the other 30."
Editorial: End gridlock on judge appointments (Des Moines Register [IA] , 11/26/10)
"Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley could - and should - persuade his fellow Republicans to end this game. Next year, Grassley is scheduled to move into the top Republican chair on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which handles matters involving the federal courts. Grassley told the Register's editorial board prior to the November election he would give "serious thought" to working to end the partisan wars over judicial confirmations. He should do that.
As the 111th Congress heads toward final adjournment by the end of the year, 39 judicial nominees will be ready for a confirmation vote. Senators should move quickly on these confirmations before they leave town."
GOP to blame for failure to vote on judicial nominees (Washington Post, 11/25/10)
Letter to the Editor from Alliance for Justice's Nan Aron: ""Interest groups" haven't prevented final votes; Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has. It's been that way since President Obama took office and, as the editorial said, it needs to stop. The 23 nominees now stuck in legislative limbo should each receive a final vote before this Congress adjourns. The lame-duck Senate should not be contributing to the creation of a lame-duck judiciary."
Fill judicial vacancies (Deseret News [UT] , 11/24/10)
Glenn Sugameli Letter to the Editor: "Bizarrely, however, Senate Republican "holds" have even blocked Utah's Scott Matheson Jr. and other consensus nominees who have strong support from home-state Republican senators. In early June, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved Matheson's 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals nomination without dissent, and Sen. Orrin Hatch promised to "do everything in my power to get him through as soon as I can." Since then, judicial vacancies have soared to over 100, including 50 judicial emergencies, and current and retired Republican-appointed federal judges have urged the Senate to stop delaying and act now on all the pending nominees."
Editorial: Still confirm [John ("Jack")] McConnell (Providence Journal [RI] , 11/23/10)
"As we have said (“Confirm McConnell,” editorial, May 14) Providence lawyer John (“Jack”) McConnell is highly qualified to be a U.S. District judge. He’s one of America’s most able and successful litigators, and has been a very energetic and generous leader in philanthropies and other parts of community life. ...The Senate should face down a filibuster and approve his nomination."
When Republican Judges Beg. (American Prospect, 11/23/10)
Adam Serwer: "The obstruction of Obama's judicial nominees is unprecedented, creating a number of "judicial emergencies" around the country. ...It's gotten so bad that, Ian Millhiser writes, a number of Republican judges are now begging the GOP to stop obstructing Obama's nominees."
Editorial: Fairness should go both ways (Daily Courier [Prescott, AZ], 11/23/10)
"These judges deserve a confirmation vote, up or down, and the federal bench - like the Arizona Supreme Court - needs reinforcements."
Do Sens. Reid and McConnell read their mail? (Charleston Gazette [WV] , 11/22/10)
Andrew Clevenger: "On Friday, Ashley L. Belleau, president of the Federal Bar Association, wrote a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), urging the leaders to take action, at the very least, on the 17 candidates awaiting confirmation votes from the full Senate who passed out of the Judiciary Committee “by unanimous consent or without controversy.” "
Americans want lawmakers to cooperate, but it won’t happen (Telegraph [Nashua, NH], 11/21/10)
Lee H. Hamilton: "the Senate’s intense partisanship has, among other things, yielded a judicial confirmation process that is long on rancorous debates over judicial philosophy and short on actual confirmations. The judiciary is being hobbled by congressional polarization."
Partisan tactics keep courts in gridlock (Anchorage Daily News [AK] , 11/21/10)
Bob Bundy and Jeff Feldman: "Today, two Ninth Circuit nominees -- Goodwin Liu and Mary Murguia -- await a vote by the full Senate. Both are well-qualified. Both have support from across the political spectrum. But both nominations have been stalled by partisan tactics.
The Senate should move immediately to confirm Liu and Murguia. It's time to stop the obstruction and delay."
Editorial: Senate must end games, confirm strong N.C. judges; Congress' failure to approve Diaz, Eagles is shameful. (Charlotte Observer [NC] , 11/21/10)
"Diaz and Eagles are among a couple dozen capable judges whose careers are being hamstrung by partisan high jinks. The whole farce helps explain why the public is disgusted with how Congress operates these days. ... Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is the biggest impediment.... Burr should publicly and privately work to persuade McConnell to permit up-or-down votes on these nominees, without a paralyzing 30 hours of debate on each and every one of them. This all matters because dozens of seats have reached a level of "judicial emergency," according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, meaning the workload is unsustainable and judges are needed."
Time now to confront the crisis on the federal bench (The Hill, 11/19/10)
David M. Brodsky: "There is crisis in the federal courts today -- an unprecedented absence of judicial confirmations leading to severely overburdened courts that will have a direct impact on thousands of ordinary Americans who could see justice significantly delayed or denied in cases ranging from claims of employment discrimination to corporate malfeasance. There are 108 vacant seats on the federal bench, and a Senate that appears unwilling or unable to address this potential emergency....But by far the most significant factor in the current judicial vacancy crisis is the Senate's ongoing partisan and unconscionable delays that have prevented many judicial nominees from coming to a vote by the full Senate and led to a record low confirmation rate. ... Giving nominees an up or down vote is the only way to eliminate the appearance of excessive partisanship and begin to restore the public's faith in the integrity of our judiciary and its delicate system of checks and balances."
Judicial vacancies and the lame duck session (Charleston Gazette [WV] , 11/19/10)
Andrew Clevenger: "There’s been a growing chorus of voices calling upon the U.S. Senate to take action on the more than 100 vacancies in the federal judiciary during the lame duck session. In terms of knowing how the federal justice system works, some of these folks are pretty credible as experts. ... So now it’s not just court-watchers, academics and talking heads urging the Senate to take action from the sidelines. It’s current and former judges essentially begging the upper legislative body to send them some help, because the empty seats on the bench are eroding the quality of justice in our courts."
Let's fix judicial nominee process (Politico, 11/18/10)
ABNER J. MIKVA & TIMOTHY LEWIS: "As federal judges appointed by presidents from different parties, we urge the Senate to end the excessive politicization of the confirmation process that is creating these delays.
This obstruction and the way it undermines our democratic process would be outrageous at any time. But it is especially shameful now, because many of these qualified nominees received bipartisan support when nominated and were then approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee with broad support. Yet they have waited more than a year to be confirmed because the Senate never put their nomination to a vote."
Senate Could Go Into Weekend to Confirm Administration Nominees (Firedoglake, 11/18/10)
David Dayen: "The federal courts are nearing crisis mode, with a record number of vacancies, and need a fresh batch of judges....In the next Congress, Senate Democrats should really make this a priority....Mind you, it would be better if they cut down on the time needed for post-cloture debate, or the need for multiple cloture votes on confirmations, by changing the rules of the Senate at the beginning of the next Congress, which they can do by majority vote."
Justice (Think Progress, 11/18/10)
"The Senate may need to hold weekend sessions to confirm long-stalled nominees who have previously been blocked by unprecedented GOP obstructionism.
The delayed nominees include four “controverisial” judicial nomines who Majority Leader Reid has now indicated he will hold votes on."
Goodwin Liu and Others Still Not Confirmed (Legal Ethics Forum, 11/17/10)
Former GW Bush WH Associate Counsel Richard Painter: "Once again the Senate has been refusing to vote up or down on many of the President’s judicial nominees. ...nominees who should not be controversial, including Goodwin Liu (I have made previous posts here on his nomination), are described as radical activists..Those of us who care about the future of the judiciary should make it clear that the delay must stop. This does not mean the Senators should vote "yes". They can vote "no". But they should vote."
Lame-Duck Fights: Confirm OMB's Jack Lew, DOJ's Jim Cole and 23 Federal Judges (Huffington Post, 11/17/10)
Prof. Victor Williams: "For federal justice's sake, Barack Obama must continue to demand immediate floor votes for 23 long-blocked judicial nominees.... The Administration must keep the traditional nomination queue full while Obama regularly uses his bully pulpit to demand Senate confirmation votes.
In addition to key executive and regulatory positions, Obama's focus should be on the confirmation fight for federal judges."
PUTTING NOMINATIONS HIGH ON THE SENATE'S TO-DO LIST (Washington Monthly, 11/16/10)
Steve Benen's column: "Why not use that time to let the Obama administration actually have the staff it needs and start dealing with the vacancy crisis on the federal courts?
The latter, in particular, is one of the overlooked scandals of the last two years. ... If I'm Harry Reid, I'm getting ready to make this one of my top priorities in the next Congress."
Editorial: New Congress must confirm judges (Press Telegram [CA], 11/16/10)
Caseloads are so critically high that some vacancies have been declared judicial emergencies. There are 111 vacant judge positions in the federal system. Thirty-eight candidates who have been through the vetting process and have even had a hearing in the Senate are awaiting confirmation.