07.30.12

Leahy Calls On Senate To Take Up Circuit Court Nominee

WASHINGTON (Monday, July 30, 2012) – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) today called on Republicans to drop their blockade of consensus judicial nominees and allow the chamber to debate and vote on the nomination Robert Bacharach of Oklahoma to fill a vacancy on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. 

Bacharach was approved on a voice vote by the Judiciary Committee in June. He enjoys the support of his two home state Senators, and is one of 20 judicial nominees awaiting Senate consideration. If Republicans successfully block Bacharach’s nomination from going forward, it will be the first time in Senate history that a judicial nominee reported by the Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support has been blocked on the floor. Leahy called on his Senate colleagues to drop their partisan opposition and allow Bacharach’s nomination to be considered.

“The American people need to understand that Senate Republicans are stalling and filibustering judicial nominees supported by their home state Republican Senators,” Leahy said in a statement. “What they are doing now is a first.  As I have noted, no circuit court nominee reported with the bipartisan support of the Judiciary Committee has ever been successfully filibustered.”

Leahy’s full statement submitted to the Congressional Record can be viewed on his website

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Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.),

Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee,

On the Nomination of Judge Robert Bacharach of Oklahoma to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

July 30, 2012

Today’s debate and vote on the partisan filibuster of the Oklahoma judicial nominee, who has had the support of the Republican Senators from Oklahoma since President Obama nominated him six months ago, is another example of how extreme Senate Republicans have gone in their efforts to obstruct judicial confirmations.  If they succeed in their partisan filibuster, it will be another first for them.  Never before has the Senate filibustered and refused to vote on a judicial nominee with such strong bipartisan support, who was voted out of the Judiciary Committee with virtually unanimous support.  

Their partisan efforts to shutdown Senate confirmations of qualified judicial nominees who have bipartisan support do not help the American people.  This is a shortsighted policy at a time when the judicial vacancy rate remains more than twice what it was at this point in the first term of President Bush. 

Throughout this very careful and deliberate process in which Judge Robert Bacharach has been thoroughly vetted, considered, and voted on by the Judiciary Committee, I have not heard a single negative word about him.  The only obstacle standing between Judge Bacharach being confirmed to serve the people of the Tenth Circuit is partisan obstruction.

During the Judiciary Committee meeting approving the nomination of Judge Bacharach, Senator Coburn noted:

“I believe that Judge Bacharach will uphold the highest standards and reflect the best in our American judicial tradition by coming to the bench as a well-regarded member of the community. . .  I believe Judge Bacharach would be an excellent addition to the Tenth Circuit.” 

Senator Inhofe likewise has said:  “I believe that Judge Bacharach would continue the strong service Oklahomans have provided the Tenth Circuit.” 

The American people need to understand that Senate Republicans are stalling and filibustering judicial nominees supported by their home state Republican Senators. 

What they are doing now is a first.  As I have noted, no circuit court nominee reported with the bipartisan support of the Judiciary Committee has ever been successfully filibustered.  They are denying votes also to William Kayatta, a universally respected nominee from Maine supported by his home state Republican Senators, and Richard Taranto, whose nomination to the Federal Circuit received virtually unanimous support. 

It is time for reasonable and independent thinking Senators to end this needless and damaging filibuster on Judge Bacharach’s nomination and confirm him.  At a time when judicial vacancies remained historically high for three years, with 40 more vacancies and 40 fewer confirmations than at this point in President Bush’s first term, the Senate Republican leadership should reconsider its obstruction and work with us to fill these longstanding judicial vacancies in order to help the American people. 

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