Leahy: Senate Republicans Should Not Block Judicial Nominees

WASHINGTON (Thursday, February 11, 2016) – Following today’s confirmation vote on Leonard Strand to fill a judicial emergency vacancy in the Federal District Court in the Northern District of Iowa, there are still 17 judicial nominees pending on the Senate floor.  Each nominee was approved by the Judiciary Committee by voice vote and should be confirmed without further delay, Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said. 

“There is an urgent need for the Senate to confirm highly qualified nominees who will get to work in federal court houses across the country where justice for too many Americans has been delayed,” Leahy said.  “Judge Strand will fill just one of these emergency vacancies.  There are dozens more to fill.”

News reports have indicated that conservative activists are demanding the Republican majority shutdown the confirmation process entirely.  Yet such a blockade would prevent nominees with Republican support from being confirmed.

Waverly Crenshaw, an African-American nominee who would fill an emergency vacancy on the Middle District of Tennessee, was unanimously reported by the Judiciary Committee and has the support of both Tennessee Senators.  Yet, he has been pending on the floor for seven months.  Edward Stanton, another nominee from Tennessee who is also African-American, has been pending on the Senate floor for nearly four months.

Additionally, nominees from Maryland, New Jersey, Nebraska, New York, California, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania are all awaiting confirmation votes on the Senate floor.

Senate Republicans have allowed just 15 judicial nominees to be confirmed since taking over the majority last year.  At this same point in the eighth year of the Bush administration, the Senate Democratic majority had confirmed 40 judicial nominees.  In 2008, while Leahy served as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Senate Democrats worked to confirm judicial nominees as late as September of the presidential election year.  In total, the Democratic majority confirmed 28 of President Bush’s judicial nominees in 2008.

“The federal judiciary is dependent on us to fulfill this obligation, and the American people expect that we will do the jobs we have been elected to do in the U.S. Senate,” Leahy said.  “Refusing to confirm any judicial nominees for the rest of this year would make the high number of vacancies in our Federal judiciary even worse.  This would hurt the American people and weaken our justice system.  We cannot allow this to happen.”

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