Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Good News, Bad News on Judges

The good news is that the Senate confirmed three more judges yesterday.

The bad news is that this leaves 95 vacancies.

The good news is that the deal struck by Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell seems to be holding, and the Senate seems to be processing three judges a week.

The bad news is how limited that deal is. Republicans are still filibustering every single nomination; the only difference now is that on those nominees for which Democrats have the votes to defeat the filibuster, Republicans are not dragging their feet and eating up extra Senate floor time. Two confirmations yesterday were unanimous, and one was a voice vote. In fact, so far this year, every confirmation has either been unanimous or by voice vote.

The good news is that they're down to only six nominations that have cleared committee and are waiting for Senate floor action.

The bad news is: where are the nominees for the other 89 vacancies? That would be 43 pending in the Judiciary Committee, and, yes, 52 for which Barack Obama hasn't nominated anyone. Obama named three appointees earlier this month, after naming three in February and seven in late January (the rest of the nominations coincided with the opening of the 112th Congress; I'm assuming that they were all renominations of people not confirmed last year, and that the subsequent ones were new, although I haven't checked to see whether that's correct). So that's 13 nominations so far this year, or just barely ahead of the pace of new openings (11; all data from the Court web page). Granted, part of the reason the administration is slow to act is because of GOP obstruction. Still, as usual, there's no sign at all that Barack Obama or anyone in the White House considers this a priority.

In other words: nice to have a few of the easiest confirmations processed, but this is still bad news overall. We'll see what happens when they use up the unanimous group and get to the nominees who will be opposed by a handful, and then a dozen or so, and finally 41-49 Senators.

4 comments:

  1. Granted, part of the reason the administration is slow to act is because of GOP obstruction. Still, as usual, there's no sign at all that Barack Obama or anyone in the White House considers this a priority.

    It's 2011, and you still don't understand the way Obama or the congressional Republicans work.

    If anyone in the Obama administration even hinted that confirming judges was a priority for them, then GOP would effortlessly obstruct even the non-controversial ones. Result: ZERO new judges (that's less than three per week, by the way).

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  2. Andrew --

    No. They're letting the non-controversial ones through as part of a deal...which came from Dem pressure for filibuster reform.

    Meanwhile, as long as the Democrats have 60 votes (which they do, on most judicial nominations, even in the new Senate), there's really nothing that Republicans can do to stop it. They can chew up floor time, but ultimately if you have 60, you can do what you want.

    That it was lack of interest by the WH/Democrats was more obvious in the 111th Congress, of course, when they easily had the votes.

    To anticipate the objection: if McConnell could successfully pressure Lugar, Snowe, etc. to vote against cloture for every single nominee, the next step would be cloture reform. If, that is, Democrats cared about judicial nominations.

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  3. The American people are electing some pretty hard boards these days.

    http://plainblogaboutpolitics.blogspot.com/2009/12/hard-boards.html

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  4. No. They're letting the non-controversial ones through as part of a deal...which came from Dem pressure for filibuster reform.

    And it speaks volumes that letting noncontroversial nominees get an unobstructed floor vote is now a bargaining chip instead of just the way things are done.

    ReplyDelete

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