Editorials and Opinion
Tillis: Confirming judges has “nothing to do with doing our jobs” (Progressive Pulse [NC], 07/14/16)
Commentary by Rob Schofield: "Sometimes it is almost beyond belief that Thom Tillis serves on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. That same thought must’ve been running through the minds of a lot of his fellow senators yesterday afternoon when Tillis took to the Senate floor to block a bundle of federal court nominations who would have filled vacancies that are causing backups in the courts. Many of them passed the Judiciary Committee unanimously.
Doug Clark of the Greensboro News & Record reports:
“Tillis objected that the Senate shouldn’t be forced to do ‘things that have nothing to do with doing our jobs’ while action is needed on important matters like Zika, veterans, drug addiction and defense funding.
Which prompted Democrat Elizabeth Warren to question what part of the Constitution says that confirming judges isn’t the Senate’s job." ... As the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights noted on Twitter, Tillis’ position is, in a word, “crazy.”... Tillis and his blockading conservative colleagues are simply not doing their jobs in 2016 when it come to their constitutional duty to advise and consent on judicial nominations (including the nomination of the eminently qualified Merrick Garland to serve on the Supreme Court) and it’s simply an embarrassment. Unfortunately, Tillis is so uninformed with respect to his constitutional duties that he doesn’t even grasp how wildly off-base he has strayed."
Senate has confirmed enough judges, Tillis says (Greensboro News & Record [NC], 07/13/16)
Editorial writer Doug Clark's blog: "U.S. Senate Democrats tried to push 16 judicial nominees to confirmation this afternoon but were denied by North Carolina Republican Thom Tillis.
Tillis objected that the Senate shouldn't be forced to do "things that have nothing to do with doing our jobs"... Which prompted Democrat Elizabeth Warren to question what part of the Constitution says that confirming judges isn't the Senate's job.
Warren was joined by fellow Democrats Chuck Schumer and Mazie Hirono in trying to break a logjam before the Senate goes into its long summer recess.... Schumer pointed out that the number of judicial vacancies is much greater than those a Democratic Senate left in the last two years of George W. Bush's presidency.... as Hirono said, the pending nominees are noncontroversial, having been approved by a voice vote in the Judiciary Committee (of which Tillis is a member). Furthermore, many were nominated before 2016."
Another judicial candidate deserves a nomination hearing (WIZM [WI], 07/13/16)
Program Director, Scott Robert Shaw: "The delays in holding nomination hearings for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland have been well documented. Garland was nominated to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Antonin Scalia back in March. But the Senate refuses to even hold nomination hearings to consider his credentials, despite the fact that Garland has more federal judicial experience than any Supreme Court nominee in history. But that delay in holding hearings is nothing compared to the delay in holding hearings for a vacancy on the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals which serves Wisconsin. Donald Schott was nominated to fill the vacancy on that court back in January. There should be some sense of urgency on the part of our U.S. Senate to get this post filled. It has been vacant for more than six years, a total of 2400 days and counting. That is despite the fact that Schott's nomination is endorsed by both Wisconsn Senators, and a bipartisan group of former Wisconsin State Bar Presidents. The Senate Judiciary Committee has finally held a hearing and approved the nomination with bipartisan support. But still the Senate is refusing to schedule hearings. Schott deserves a fair shot, and the people of Wisconsin deserve a fully staffed court. Because the courts can't fully do their jobs until our Senators do theirs."
Reproachable record: What Toomey's been up to (Bucks County Courier Times [PA], 07/12/16)
Wayne Kroger, Guest Opinion: "Last July, Toomey said that he was "delighted" that Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo's nomination for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit was finally reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. This could have occurred months prior to that if Toomey hadn't refused to submit the so-called "blue slip" to move Restrepo's nomination out of the Committee – even though the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts declared a "judicial emergency" for appeals out of Pennsylvania. When asked about the delay, Toomey told a reporter "I've got to run for this lunch" and ducked into an elevator.... Toomey also supports the filibuster of Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court,"
Editorial: Confirm Judge Koh to the 9th Circuit (San Francisco Chronicle [CA], 07/11/16)
"Nearly five months after President Obama nominated her to fill an emergency vacancy on the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Lucy Haeran Koh is scheduled for her Senate hearing Wednesday. This is welcome news after months of partisan division over judicial appointments.... Koh was the first Asian American federal judge in the Bay Area.
Koh has proved herself an accomplished, moderate, evenhanded judge who would bring necessary diversity to the Ninth Circuit. Justice is best delivered by maintaining a full court. Koh deserves Senate confirmation, and quickly."
Before SCOTUS Blockade, This GOP Senator Wanted Obama To Hurry Up And Fill Federal Vacancies: Ron Johnson said last year that presidents should fill vacancies within 210 days. (Huffington Post, 07/11/16)
Jennifer Bendery: "Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) won’t help to advance President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee.... But before the Supreme Court seat opened up this year, the senator considered filling federal vacancies to be more urgent. In June 2015, when the Senate was debating the National Defense Authorization Act, Johnson offered an amendment underscoring that Obama should have to fill federal posts within 210 days of a vacancy opening up.... Obama nominated Merrick Garland in March to replace Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died on Feb. 13. That means, by Johnson’s metric, the Senate should be voting to fill the seat before Sept. 10.... Speaking of judges: The Wisconsin senator is also behind the longest circuit court vacancy in the country."
Grassley Bogs Down Entire Judiciary, Not Just Supreme Court (Iowa Starting Line, 07/10/16)
Pat Rynard: "For those who have been watching Senator Chuck Grassley’s tenure as the new chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, his Supreme Court blockade wasn’t a big surprise. It was merely the culmination of a clear trend of obstruction of President Barack Obama’s nominees to all levels of the judiciary.... this also adds to Grassley’s historic level of obstruction on all judicial appointments. Just 20 lower court nominees from President Obama have actually been confirmed by the Senate since Grassley’s chairmanship began. By mid-June in 2008, Senator Leahy and the Democratic-controlled Senate had confirmed 49.
As one would expect, that’s caused a considerable amount of problems for the proper functioning of the judicial branch of government. It means heavier caseloads for the judges already in place and a delay of justice for those in a backlogged system. After Grassley took over the Judiciary Committee, the number of judicial vacancies have nearly doubled, from 43 to 83. Meanwhile, Obama’s nominees are playing the waiting game. 54 judicial nominees are on Grassley’s plate, yet over half of them haven’t even gotten a hearing or vote scheduled."
Watch Elizabeth Warren Relentlessly Push The Senate To Confirm Judges: The Massachusetts Democrat mocked Republicans for leaving courts empty for Donald Trump to fill. (Huffington Post, 07/08/16)
Jennifer Bendery: "Judicial nominees are piling up in the Senate as Republicans refuse to confirm them, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has had it.
Warren tore into the GOP on Thursday for exacerbating a judicial vacancy crisis, and repeatedly tried to force the Senate to confirm 17 judicial nominees stalled on the Senate floor. ... court vacancies are skyrocketing, judges are burning out and the federal judiciary is being stretched to its limits.... The Senate could confirm all 17 nominees in a matter of minutes, if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would allow votes to be held. Every single one of nominees has bipartisan support, and if confirmed, they would make an appreciable dent in the nation’s current 89 federal court vacancies. But when Warren formally requested that the Senate hold votes, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) objected. Warren went back to the microphone and tried again, this time calling for votes on nominees who have been waiting since last year. When Cornyn shut her down again, she kept at it, insisting that at least the nominees who have been waiting for longer than a year should get votes."
North Dakota legislature votes on every bill (News Journal [DE] , 07/08/16)
Harry Themal column: "Things are much worse in the hogtied Congress. A Supreme Court nominee doesn’t even get a vote because controlling Senate Republicans fear Judge Merrick Garland might be approved. Other judicial and executive appointments are in limbo for months if not years."
Grassley's SCOTUS delay sets a dangerous precedent (Des Moines Register [IA], 07/07/16)
Rick Smith, Letter to the Editor: "Sen. Chuck Grassley’s blockade of the Supreme Court confirmation process sets in motion a dangerous precedent for future presidents. Grassley and his Republican allies claim they have the right to freeze the Supreme Court confirmation process and refuse to hold hearings.... his totally absurd claim that mid-term elections limit the president’s power to get his nominees confirmed is an extremely risky and unprecedented power grab by Grassley and the Republicans. Based on Grassley’s defective reasoning, what will prevent future opposition parties that take control of the Senate in a mid-term election from refusing to confirm any of that president’s appointments?
If Grassley continues to refuse to hold hearings, he will carry the full responsibility for this irreparable damage to more than 200 years of constitutional confirmation history."
N.J. judge awaits GOP-delayed vote while your civil case remains on hold | Opinion (Star-Ledger Newark [NJ] , 07/06/16)
Prof. Carl Tobias: "Among the country’s ten biggest federal courts, the District of New Jersey is second in weighted filings per district judgeship, a figure that assumes all seventeen authorized judgeships are filled. ... On June 11, 2015, President Barack Obama nominated Brian Martinotti,.... The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Martinotti on October 29 without dissent. However, the nominee has languished on the Senate floor ever since, principally due to Republican leaders’ refusal to allow his confirmation debate and vote. ... The District of New Jersey currently has three vacancies, so the court lacks seventeen percent of its active judicial complement, which frustrates district efforts to deliver justice. Chief Judge Jerome Simandle has been urging the Senate to quickly fill the openings ever since they arose. ... He concluded that the three “vacancies each at least one year old, [and the] enormous docket pressures make New Jersey a ‘’‘judicial emergency’ district three times over” and hoped for “Senate action soon.” ... Republican leaders have maintained that they are returning the Senate to “regular order,” however, Martinotti and many other competent, mainstream nominees have waited months for final votes."
COLUMN: Happy Birthday, America (Star-Exponent [Culpeper, VA], 07/05/16)
David Reuther: "If government is seen as broken, it is because cooperation and compromise are no longer in favor. For example, the Senate refuses to act on a presidential Supreme Court nomination. The Republican blockade of Judge Merrick Garland is shameful, but it is only the most glaring example of what has been a historic slowdown in filing federal court vacancies across the country. Mitch McConnell’s Senate has confirmed only 20 of the President’s nominees since the Republicans took control of the Senate in January 2015. This is the slowest pace since the early 1950s.
As a result of the Senate’s blockage, there are now 83 vacant federal judgeships nation-wide — 30 of which have such overwhelming case backlogs that the court system has classified them as judicial emergencies."
EDITORIAL: U.S. Senate, do your job — confirm judges (Independent [Grand Island, NE], 07/05/16)
"Nebraska got some good news from the U.S. Senate on June 27 when it voted 90-0 to confirm Robert F. Rossiter Jr. to the ... District of Nebraska to fill an emergency vacancy.
Sen. Deb Fischer of Nebraska has been praised for her work to see that the Senate took this vote. But the 90-0 vote shows that there was no opposition to Rossiter, so why did it take this long?
And the filling of this one judicial vacancy just raises the question of why the Senate has been unable to fill dozens of other vacancies throughout the country. It has allowed just 21 judicial nominees to be confirmed since the start of this Congress, even though judicial vacancies have nearly doubled in the past 18 months and the number of judicial emergencies has increased from 12 to 29.... Vacancies are continuing to prevent our country’s justice system from operating smoothly throughout the country.
There are now more than 80 judicial vacancies in all, ... and 20 federal judicial vacancies that have nominees ....
When judicial vacancies go unfilled, Americans suffer through costly delays in trials. We have seen ... how critical the shortage caused by Antonin Scalia’s death is in the court’s efforts to make decisions.
With the Senate set to go on a seven-week break on July 15, it is time for our country’s senators to do one of the crucial tasks they were elected to do, vote on more of these judicial nominee[s]."
The Public Pulse, July 5: Fischer has given us a good judge (Omaha World-Herald [NE] , 07/05/16)
Mary Lauritzen: "Robert Rossiter Jr. of Omaha confirmed to the federal bench. The final vote in the Senate was 90-0.
It was a good nomination that eventually, thanks to Sen. Fischer’s negotiations, resulted in a vote that unified the U.S. Senate"
Federal judicial vacancies in Texas still an emergency (San Antonio Express-News [TX] , 07/04/16)
Hooman Hedayati, Commentary: "A year ago today on this page, I criticized the troubling obstructionism by U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz of Texas.
They have repeatedly failed to fill vacated seats in our state’s federal appellate and district courts, including their opposition to potential nominations of qualified district judges originally recommended by Republicans.... Our state’s federal judiciary is in abysmal shape, as there are still two vacancies on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and 10 vacancies — three more than last year — in Texas’ U.S. District Courts. The oldest vacancy goes back to 2011. Additionally, several federal judges are expected to retire in the next few years.
In comparison, there are no appellate vacancies under Missouri and Louisiana, both part of the 5th Circuit. ... The Judicial Conference of the United States, headed by Chief Justice John Roberts, has marked all the Texas vacancies as a “judicial emergency,” accounting for 29 percent of the judicial emergencies nationwide .... there are 97 current and future vacancies. .... On March 15, President Barack Obama nominated five experienced individuals to fill some of the district court vacancies.
The Senate Judiciary Committee rules require both home state senators to sign a “blue slip” card, noting their approval, in order to schedule a confirmation hearing. So far, none has signed or indicated his intent to do so.
So much for working hard to fill the vacancies, Sen. Cornyn.
As long as Sens. Cornyn and Cruz continue to play politics and ignore their constitutional duty, Texans will suffer from this blatant obstruction.
Justice delayed is justice denied."
Hansen: Though it acting at all is cause for celebration, Senate’s slow going on Rossiter is just sad (Omaha World-Herald [NE] , 07/02/16)
Matthew Hansen / World-Herald columnist: "The Senate actually did do something important Monday when it confirmed Omaha lawyer Robert Rossiter as Nebraska’s newest U.S. District Court judge.
Rossiter’s confirmation offered a common sense solution to a real problem — namely, that our state’s federal district court has been understaffed for nearly two years, creating a logjam of cases.
And it served as a rare moment of good, bipartisan feeling, a unanimous vote applauded by Republican Sen. Deb Fischer .... federal district judicial nominees are rarely controversial. ... That line is so long because Senate leaders simply refuse to make it shorter. As recently as 2008, the Senate would speed the process by lumping together a bunch of non-controversial nominees like Rossiter and confirming them all at once. Current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has done away with that practice, .... This willfully ignores that in June there were 67 vacant U.S. court judgeships, nearly double the number of vacancies at the same point during President George W. Bush’s presidency and way more than at any point during the Bill Clinton or George H.W. Bush administrations.
It also continues to morph this once-common sense process into more and more of a political game .... The end result: It took the Senate more than a full year to take a vote — a 90-0 vote — and confirm Rossiter.
That delay matters.... what suffers are the civil cases."
What about the Other Judicial Nominees? (Boston's Blog, 06/30/16)
Jim Boston: "It finally happened.
372 days after President Barack Obama nominated him to serve as a district judge for the US District Court for the State of Nebraska, Robert F. Rossiter Jr. finally got the gig.... the US Senate voted, 90-0, to confirm Rossiter .... Now it's time for the two dozen other district-judge nominees to get their confirmations.
In fact, it's long been time. One of the reasons Rossiter's got a new job is US Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE), ... On the other side of the coin...Fischer's one of the US senators fighting like you-know-what to prevent Merrick Garland from even having a hearing as Obama's nominee to replace the now-deceased Antonin Scalia.... 1988 was also the year where, 49 days into the year, a 51-year-old Californian named Anthony Kennedy became the newest SCOTUS justice.... Isn't it time to give Garland his due?"
EDITORIAL: End the Senate’s useless judicial obstructionism (Butler Eagle [PA], 06/30/16)
"President Barack Obama nominated Judge Horan for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania nearly a year ago. She would fill one of three seats on the court which have been vacant since 2013. A fourth seat became vacant this year .... there’s been no timetable put forward for a full vote by the Senate to send her or any of the dozens of other judicial nominees awaiting confirmation to the federal bench.
That’s a shameful and harmful state of affairs which Pennsylvania voters shouldn’t tolerate. District courts across the country hear hundreds of thousands of cases annually, and need a full complement of judges to function properly.... this U.S. Senate is allowing an entire corner of Pennsylvania to go without a sitting federal judge.... In the case of Judge Horan and district court nominees like her, the Senate’s obstructionist tactics aren’t just harmful, they are nonsensical. These appointees aren’t political statements by the president or even generally controversial in any way. Both Horan and Baxter have been endorsed by Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican, and Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat.
Yet the Senate’s destructive behavior, meant to harm Obama but managing only to punish sitting federal judges and the citizens these courts are meant to serve, continues."
Editorial, 6/29 (Lincoln Journal Star [NE], 06/29/16)
"Dysfunction pervades the nation’s capital. ... Senate Republicans continue to refuse to even hold hearings on President Barack Obama’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy.
On an issue close to home the Senate this week finally confirmed Omaha attorney Robert Rossiter Jr. as a federal judge for Nebraska. The position had been vacant since October, 2014, with a workload in the district so heavy that it was classified as “judicial emergency.” There was nothing controversial about Rossiter’s nomination. Nonetheless it took the Senate a year to act once President Barack Obama nominated him."
Senate GOP Judicial Obstruction Simply Staggering (Tidal Soundings, 06/29/16)
"Senate Republicans refusal to actually fulfill their constitutional responsibilities just keeps on staggering me. Take a look at this article describing just how many judicial appointments Senate Republicans are holding up .... The level of obstruction is just staggering and the disregard for our judicial system is equally stunning. ... these are judicial vacancies that have been unfilled for two or three years already."
Live Wire: Sen. Burr blocking judge from bench (Fayetteville Observer [NC] , 06/29/16)
"Q: I was reading that Judge Patricia Timmons-Goodson has been nominated for a federal judgeship and Sen. Richard Burr is going to block her. Why would Sen. Burr block such a good person? I know this woman and her family, and she is a very good person, and she has been a good judge for years. - B.R., Fayetteville
A: President Obama nominated Timmons-Goodson of Fayetteville for a federal judgeship in April. Praise for her isn't just from B.R.
Cumberland County commissioners voted unanimously in May to support her nomination.... She became the first black woman to serve on the N.C. Supreme Court.
U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, a Democrat who represents many counties in the Eastern District, has said, "Her character and reputation are beyond reproach."... Burr, a Republican, has said he won't allow Timmons- Goodson to be confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate.... - Steve DeVane
NEW NEBRASKA JUDGE BOB ROSSITER CONFIRMED (PAPERWORK TO FOLLOW) (Mimesis Law, 06/29/16)
Richard G. Kopf, Senior United States District Judge (Nebraska): "I have written before at Fault Lines about what a wonderful federal district judge Bob Rossiter would be for the District of Nebraska. On Monday, June 27, 2016, at about 6:15 p.m. Eastern Time, Bob was confirmed 90 to 0 by the Senate.... he only had to wait more than a year to have his entirely non-controversial nomination voted upon by a roll call on the Senate floor. By that time, our court faced a “judicial emergency” because we were without one-third of our judge-power for over 18 months.
In fact, nearly three years have passed since Judge Joe Bataillon told the world he intended to take senior status. Still further, Bob had to wait for nearly two year before his floor vote, even though both Nebraska Senators had recommended Bob to President Obama in August of 2014.
Time passes slowly when you are in prison or considered for the position of a federal district judge."
World-Herald editorial: Rossiter confirmation shows things can get done in Congress (Omaha World-Herald [NE] , 06/29/16)
"The commendable work by U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer on Robert Rossiter Jr.’s judicial nomination shows that it’s possible to get things done in Washington through effective leadership. The Senate voted 90-0 Monday to approve the nomination of Rossiter, an Omaha attorney, as Nebraska’s next federal judge.
Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, stated that “only because of the efforts of Sen. Fischer is Mr. Rossiter’s nomination receiving a vote today.”... As reporting by The World-Herald’s Joseph Morton explained, the vote on Rossiter’s nomination is a rarity at a time when the Senate is otherwise stalemated on such votes. Some 25 judicial nominations are still “languishing on the Senate floor” due to the gridlock, Leahy said."
Republicans Aren’t Even Pretending They Want To Confirm Judges Anymore: They’re quietly blocking their own nominees and skipping votes for others. Because Obama. (Huffington Post, 06/28/16)
Jennifer Bendery: "Senate Republicans have never made it easy for President Barack Obama to put judges on federal courts. ... 15 Republican senators are quietly blocking their own nominees in the committee. Take Cruz and Cornyn. They’ve got 12 judicial vacancies in Texas — that’s the most in the nation — and all have been designated judicial emergencies, meaning the courts’ workloads are unmanageable. Both senators publicly supported Obama’s nomination of five people to those courts in March. In fact, Cornyn talked big about his commitment to getting them confirmed .... But none of those nominees has been confirmed, because Cruz and Cornyn won’t turn in their so-called “blue slips” .... Sen. Dan Coats (Ind.) hasn’t turned in his blue slip for his judicial nominee, Myra Selby. Sens. Richard Shelby (Ala.) and Jeff Sessions (Ala.) haven’t turned in their blue slips for their nominee, Abdul Kallon. Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Tim Scott (S.C.), Dean Heller (Nev.), Richard Burr (N.C.), Thom Tillis (N.C.), Pat Toomey (Pa.) and Rand Paul (Ky.) haven’t turned in blue slips for their nominees, either. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) hasn’t turned in his blue slip for his nominee, Lisabeth Hughes.... Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said he no longer supports his nominee, Mary Barzee Flores,... Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) pulled his support for his nominee, Dax López"
Don Walton column (Lincoln Journal Star [NE], 06/27/16)
"The Senate is expected to confirm the president's nomination of Robert Rossiter to be a U.S. District Court judge in Nebraska on Monday. And, just think, it only took a little over a year for the Senate to act on the nomination while Nebraska's federal court system struggled with an overload that qualifies as a "judicial emergency.""
Editorial: Extreme partisanship blocks judges, cripples federal courts (Palm Beach Post [FL], 06/27/16)
"Think it’s bad that we have an empty seat on the U.S. Supreme Court?
Well, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Senate Republicans have been so successful in their strategy of obstructing any nominees by President Barack Obama that there are now 89 vacancies in the federal courts system.
Waiting to fill those spots are 58 nominees, the limbo for some going back almost a year and a half. That includes South Florida attorney Mary Barzee Flores, whose nomination 16 months ago has been blocked by her own senator, Marco Rubio. ... federal courts are where citizens go to protect important constitutional rights on voting access, the environment and discrimination. It’s where consumers and workers go to hold corporations accountable. With those courts crippled, essential liberties may be eroded."
Supreme Court Breakfast Table Entry 2: Wither the full court. (Slate.com, 06/22/16)
Dawn Johnsen: "Senate Republicans’ refusal even to provide Judge Merrick Garland a hearing is an unprecedented shirking of a vital constitutional duty .... blocking an enormously qualified, noncontroversial Supreme Court nominee.... we should not be suffering these effects of a Supreme Court (and lower courts) diminished in numbers. And if we fail to keep the issue front and center, our collective passivity will prolong the harms to the proper functioning of our independent judiciary and thus the American people."
What Republicans' Obstruction Costs Them (Bloomberg News, 06/22/16)
Jonathan Bernstein: "normal opposition includes at least the possibility, and sometimes the reality, of cutting deals giving both sides something. And it has never in the past precluded a certain amount of government business getting done.... Republicans have routinely filibustered against (or, under Republican majorities, simply refused to consider) the confirmation of district court judges, even when Obama’s nominees are not controversial at all."
As I see it: Who's (left) to judge? (Telegram & Gazette [MA], 06/22/16)
Thomas Tobin: "The well-publicized vacancy on the Supreme Court isn’t the only one facing the federal judiciary. Right here in Massachusetts, the retirement of Judge Douglas Woodlock has left a vacant seat on the state’s federal district court. ... The Senate has been mulling over his proposed replacement, Inga Bernstein, for over 300 days and counting.... While Inga Bernstein and another 59 nominees across the country await further action by the U.S. Senate, judicial vacancies have myriad real-world consequences. The fact that there are a total of 89 judicial vacancies to the federal bench is indicative of the gridlock .... In one jurisdiction, North Carolina, there's a judicial vacancy that's been open for more than a decade.... Professor Carl Tobias found that judicial vacancies undermine the ability of the federal courts to provide “expeditious, inexpensive, and fair case resolution.” Put simply, vacancies in the federal judiciary “erode justice.”
Fewer judges mean that available resources are further constrained, especially that of arguably the scarcest resource of all -- time. In thirty jurisdictions across the country, dockets are so backlogged that they have been declared judicial emergencies.... more than 10 percent of more than 800 lifetime-appointment judicial posts within the federal judiciary are currently unfilled."
The Republicans and Court Vacancies (New York Times, 06/22/16)
Prof. Carl Tobias, Letter to the Editor: "“The Senate’s Confirmation Shutdown” (editorial, June 9) is exactly right. The Republican Senate majority’s inaction has perpetuated and worsened the lower federal court vacancy crisis.
The sharp contrast between the number of President George W. Bush’s 68 circuit and district nominees whom the Democratic majority helped confirm in 2007-08 and the number of President Obama’s 18 circuit and district nominees whom the Republican majority has confirmed since 2015 is compelling. Those data show the absurdity of Republicans’ claim that they have restored the Senate to “regular order.”
The G.O.P. must promptly discharge its constitutional responsibility for advising and consenting on the president’s nominees. Indeed, the Senate could confirm the one circuit and 18 district well-qualified, mainstream nominees awaiting final votes in 30 minutes."