Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Judicial Nominations Update

I don't think I've written about this for month now, and guess what? Limited good news to report.

In September, the Senate managed to confirm three nominees: two district judges and one at the circuit level. Which is all well and good, except that it didn't quite keep up with the four new openings (including the one created by elevating Judge Bernice Bouie Donald). Or the five new vacancies from the Senate's August recess. All told, there are now 18 Court of Appeals vacancies and 75 (!) District Court vacancies.

However, six confirmations (including one Circuit nomination) are now scheduled for next week, and four more will be scheduled later in October. Hey, it's something! But not very much.

Barack Obama is, to his credit, continuing to do a somewhat better job of actually nominating people for all these spots (12 of 18 Appeals, and 44 of 75 District). Not great, or even good, but better than during his first two years.

But there's just been very little action from the White House, at least not visible action, to push the Senate to act. No presidential speeches, no sustained campaign, nothing. A month ago there was something on the White House home page; it's gone now.

We're coming down to the wire here. The Senate is hardly likely to be more open to confirming these people next year, with the presidential election just months away. If Obama wants the Senate to do any better than treading water, he's going to have to put some pressure on. Unfortunately, there's very little evidence that Obama considers this very important at all, and the most likely scenario is that he ends his term with more vacancies than there are now.


  1. My uncle is the holding process. He is a US attorney. the Sentators in his state like him and are supportiving of his moving up to a judgeship. The hold is entirely in the White house -- and in the White House poliitical office.

  2. I've been wondering something about judicial nominations: Is it possible that the net effect of Obama making it a higher profile issue and putting more pressure on the Senate is a net loss for Obama?

    I see two possible problems:

    (1) The surest way to gin up GOP opposition to something is to put Obama's name on it. Not that the GOP is cooperating on confirmations now, but by bumping up the profile of judicial confirmations, would Obama simply cause GOP Senators to dig in their heels? Would they see it as an avenue to defeat Obama, and enforce (more) party discipline on the topic?

    (2) By shining a light on the issue and asking the media to cover it, do judicial nominations become a PR defeat for Obama? Another place where Obama is being stymied / frustrated / defeated?

    Note that the two effects reinforce each other.

    Now, I'm not saying that Obama is doing a good job on judicial nominations. But at least on the confirmation part of it, I'm wondering whether he could do much worse.

  3. The Senate Left is letting Obama twist in the wind, on this, the "pass this bill" drive, and so much more. The Senate's been hunkered down budgetless for over 2 years, and haven't done much of anything since that ObamaCare vote on Christmas Eve 2009. They have their own hides to worry about, and last November let them know those hides are subject to go up on some R's wall next election.

    And yeah, the last thing Obama needs is to provide campaign fodder to his opposition via judicial nominations, and to be putting Holder out front in any way. Gun Walker is on the boil, and Holder needs to hide out.

    Obama's just politically weak. It's just the way it is. There is no pressure he can apply. And his opposition would like nothing better than that he give more "speeches" about judges or anything else. Plays right into their hands. He's just gotta ride this all out, and hope for the best. Nobody's on his side in Congress right now. He's on his own.

    Of course, if Ginsburg gets sick and leaves... all bets are off. That would be a black swan event that might help him, or not, hard to tell. He'd probably just pick somebody milquetoast though, and it'd go through.


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