Editorials and Opinion
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."
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."
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."
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."
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.
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."
Nomination Fights To Come (Yglesias, 11/15/10)
"[I]t would now make sense to dedicate much more Senate floor time to nominations. Brian Beutler reports that advocates are making the case: [reproduces portion of Beutler analysis quoting Glenn Sugameli]" We’ll see if it happens, but it ought to."
Eagles and many others still wait for Senate votes (Greensboro News & Record [NC], 11/15/10)
Glenn Sugameli published Letter to the Editor: "“With a majority of women, state’s top court hits milestone (editorial, Nov. 10) correctly notes that “the federal bench still seems less welcoming.”
The U.S. Senate can help change that during the lame-duck session. Floor votes are pending on 23 judicial nominees, including 10 women, nine of whom were approved by the Judiciary Committee without dissent."
A silver lining on judicial confirmations? (Charleston Gazette [WV] , 11/15/10)
Andrew Clevenger: "Beutler suggests that without much legislation coming out of the House to occupy the Senate’s time, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) can schedule votes for pending candidates for federal judgeships and administration posts. [includes excerpts quoting Glenn Sugameli]"
Silver Lining: Why Dems' Big Loss Could Pave The Way For Obama Nominees (Talking Points Memo, 11/15/10)
Brian Beutler: "Reid should concentrate Floor time on must pass bills, message and other votes that highlight differences and important matters that are or should be non-controversial, including confirming lifetime federal judges," Glenn Sugameli, an advocate for swift judicial confirmations, tells TPM. "All of Obama's nominees to circuit and district courts have had the support of their home-state Republican and Democratic senators and the vast majority have been non-controversial nominees who have been approved by the Judiciary Committee without objection and approved unanimously when they finally receive usually long-delayed Floor votes." "If one or more Republican senators force cloture votes on consensus nominees, they will accurately be seen as mindlessly obstructionist," Sugameli says. If they do not, nominees will be confirmed quickly."
Is a GOP House Better for Obama Nominees? (Atlantic, 11/15/10)
Chris Good: TPM's Brian Beutler makes a counterintuitive point: now that Republicans control the House, President Obama's nominees might have an easier time making their ways through the Senate. [includes excerpts quoting Glenn Sugameli]
A lame and spineless duck? (Washington Post, 11/15/10)
E.J. Dionne, Jr. column: "There are a slew of judicial nominations and several executive branch appointments pending. The Senate shouldn't leave town without getting these appointees through."
More on the Vacancy Crisis. (American Prospect, 11/15/10)
Jamelle Bouie: "The other possibility, as Brian Beutler notes, is for Democrats to take advantage of Republican obstruction by devoting more time to judicial nominees: ...With gridlock likely in next year's Senate, Democrats have plenty of time to vote on nominees, as opposed to the last two years, where a tough legislative schedule meant that judicial and executive-branch nominees fell by the wayside. If Democrats are smart, they can make a lot of headway toward repairing the lower courts with new judges, and staffing the executive branch."
A Bad Deal for Judicial Nominees (American Prospect, 11/13/10)
Jamelle Bouie: "As of last week, there were 38 judicial nominees approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee and waiting for a floor vote. 29 of those nominees left Judiciary without opposition, and at least 3 came with significant bipartisan support. Given the huge number of lower court vacancies and this level of support, it's ridiculous that Reid is poised to accept a deal that confirms half of the nominees."
What's Good for One Lame Duck Ought to be Good for Another (Huffington Post, 11/11/10)
Judith E. Schaeffer: "During the Senate's "lame duck" session in 2002, the Senate voted on and confirmed 20 of President George W. Bush's judicial nominees, including two highly controversial nominees to the Court of Appeals (Dennis Shedd and Michael McConnell). President Obama's nominees deserve no less consideration now.
With more than 100 vacancies on the federal courts, there will be serious consequences to the American justice system if Senate Republicans continue to deny up or down votes to these nominees (or to additional nominees, possibly as many as 16, who may be passed out of the Judiciary Committee before the end of this Congress)."
Judicial diversity (Courier-Journal [KY] , 11/11/10)
Glenn Sugameli published Reader Letter: "one key result of this obstruction by Republican senators; it has unjustifiably prolonged the overwhelmingly white male makeup of the federal bench.
The Senate's lame duck session can and should make a difference. The 23 nominees awaiting floor votes include 10 women, nine of whom the Judiciary Committee approved without dissent.
President Obama's judicial selection has begun to diversify the federal bench; there are 22 women among his 43 confirmed nominees. In addition, 17 Obama judges are people of color, and another 13 are awaiting floor votes."
Republicans don't do bipartisanship (Daily Kos, 11/11/10)
Laurence Lewis: "The Democrats need to stop buying into a myth that means but their own destruction. They need to use every media opportunity to hammer home the point that they have tried to cooperate and compromise while the Republicans have not and will not. They need to ... appoint and confirm judges, while they can."
Judicial diversity (Kentucky Enquirer, 11/11/10)
"Woolner's excellent column does not discuss one key result of this obstruction by Republican senators; it has unjustifiably prolonged the overwhelmingly white male makeup of the federal bench."
Judicial nominees and the midterm election: Now what? (Charleston Gazette [WV] , 11/10/10)
Andrew Clevenger column: "A lot of people, including the Federal Bar Association, would put the more than 100 vacancies in the federal judiciary among the serious problems facing our country. ,,,Bouie really drives home why the growing number of judicial vacancies presents a major problem to the courts, and therefore to average Americans, calling Obama’s neglect of the judicial nomination process “one of the biggest unforced errors of his presidency”"
Judicial appointments urged for lame duck session (Daily Kos, 11/09/10)
Joan McCarter: "Obama sent a letter to the two Senate Leaders and the Chair and Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee blasting Republicans for their obstruction of these nominees. Given the outcome of the elections, the GOP might not be inclined to do anything Obama asks of them, but allowing at the very least those 17 nominees which passed out of Judiciary without opposition shouldn't be too painful. Justice is grinding to a halt throughout the country because of these judicial vacancies."
The Vacancy Crisis (American Prospect, 11/08/10)
Jamelle Bouie: "The consequences of an understaffed federal judiciary are hard to overstate. Not only are courts across the country struggling to handle growing dockets, some have stopped hearing civil cases altogether. ...The federal judiciary is one of the few areas where the president can create conditions for broad and long-lasting change. Any president who gains the opportunity to shape the federal judiciary should use it to its fullest. Yes, Obama has had to contend with a hyper-partisan, rejectionist Republican Party, but his neglect of the judicial nomination process is one of the biggest unforced errors of his presidency."
Republican Activists in Congress Choke Courts: Ann Woolner (Bloomberg News, 11/08/10)
"Pushing the judiciary rightward has been a staple of Republican campaigns for decades. ...Republicans have been loading the federal bench with as many conservatives as they can, while blocking as many Democratic nominees as possible.
Yes, I said Democratic nominees instead of liberal. The current list of 23 stalled Obama nominees includes 17 approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee without a whiff of controversy or even a no vote against them. ... So long have so many vacancies languished that court administrators have declared judicial emergencies in 50 courts. When Bush left office, that number stood at 20."
Nominees on hold (Akron Beacon Journal [OH], 11/04/10)
Glenn Sugameli published Letter to the Editor: "Blanket holds by anonymous Senate Republicans have blocked floor votes on Judge Pearson and 22 other judicial nominees the Judiciary Committee has approved.
Retiring Sen. Voinovich told CNN that the upcoming lame duck session of Congress should work to demonstrate a commitment to problem-solving rather than partisan bickering.
A good place to start would be voting to fill judicial vacancies, which have soared to over 100."
GOP Promises Two More Years of No Compromise (Crooks and Liars blog, 11/01/10)
John Perr: "Thanks to the Republicans' historic use of Filibusters, anonymous holds, and other obstructionist tactics, President Obama's confirmation rate is "falling off a cliff."...To be sure, the Republicans' successful rearguard action is helping to preserve conservative dominance of the federal judiciary. But with its sluggish pace of nominations, the Obama administration isn't helping itself."
Editorial: Burr for Senate [JTE post 11/4/10] (Greensboro News & Record [NC], 10/31/10)
"Breaking an impasse: Thanks in large part to the efforts of Burr and Hagan, one of those nominees, Jim Wynn, was finally seated on the court after years of a tit-for-tat blockade of Democratic presidents’ nominees by the GOP — and before that, the Democrats’ stonewalling of GOP court nominees. Burr and Hagan are still working to seat the second nominee, Superior Court Judge Albert Diaz of Charlotte."