Friday, May 10, 2013

Judges, Please

Just a quick note that no one is going to notice on a newsy Friday afternoon, but nevertheless it's still important:

We still aren't getting new judicial nominees.


It's now been about nine weeks since the White House convinced some gullible reporters that a flood of judges was coming. Since then, there's been barely a trickle. In particular, we're still waiting for the three nominees for the DC Circuit Court.

Now, not all of this is Barack Obama's fault. I missed this yesterday, but Jennifer Bendery has a terrific item about a confrontation over judges between John Cornyn, Ted Cruz, and Pat Leahy. Republicans are in fact, in many states, obstructing the normal process of selecting nominees in the first place (and Pat Leahy and the Judiciary Committee Democrats are basically allowing it to happen). 

However. Not all of the delays are happening in states with Republican Senators. Nor has the president done any pushback at all, at least not publicly, over GOP-led obstruction when it happens. And, really...well, I can't say I don't blame them, because I do, but I still strongly suspect that a large percentage of the low-level obstruction would disappear if Obama seemed to care about it at all. I expect Republicans to place a high priority on stopping strongly ideological DC Circuit nominations. But district court picks? I doubt they really care much, but since there's no particular reason not to slow everything down, they might as well. And don't forget -- the president can have some leverage here, because local lawyers really don't like court delays.

At any rate: we're still right around 60 seats with no nominee, but fewer than 25 nominees waiting for Senate action, with fewer than 10 having been reporting out of committee and waiting floor action. Whoever is at fault, it's pretty clear that the biggest bottleneck now is at the nomination stage, not confirmation.


  1. Keep beating this drum! It needs to be said again and again. Media outlets seem content to publish an article only every so often but it's actually a major new story every additional day it persists

  2. I have been checking judicial vacancies. Seventeen of them are for District Courts in States with two Democratic Senators (shame on them), eleven for Courts of Appeal (shame on the President) and FIFTY-NINE for District Courts in States with at least one Republican Senator (at least we can see who is obstructing). Obama and the Democrats should at the very least try to focus on the first two groups to show who is gumming the works here.

  3. I've said this before, but I think you have to assume that this isn't an accident. Obama clearly likes the status quo. He'd pay a price for appointing conservative judges, and he doesn't want liberal ones. Doing nothing is the right thing.


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