Republican Obstruction Threatens Confirmation Of Consensus Nominees

Senate Has Not Confirmed A Single Judicial Nominee Since February

WASHINGTON (Thursday, April 7, 2016) – While Senate Republicans refuse to consider a Supreme Court nominee this year they are also blocking dozens of lower court nominees from being confirmed.  The pattern of obstruction is leading to the least productive record for approving judicial nominees in more than half a century.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has not held a confirmation hearing for lower court nominees since January, and the full Senate has not voted to confirm a single judicial nominee since February.  On Thursday, Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) called on Republicans to return to regular order and consider judicial nominees.

“More than a year into this new Congress, the Republican leadership has allowed only 16 judges to be confirmed,” Leahy said“I hope that Senate Republicans will stop delaying consideration of the 17 judicial nominees pending on the Executive Calendar.  These are all nominees who were reported out of this Committee by voice vote.” 

Last month, Republicans denied confirmation votes to long-pending judicial nominees, including a Tennessee nominee with Republican support.  Since that time, Republican obstruction has only increased as they refuse to consider Chief Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

In a letter sent Thursday, 40 national organizations led by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights blasted Senate Republicans for blocking nominees from being confirmed. 

“It appears that the Committee is determined to shut down the confirmation process entirely – putting political considerations ahead of the national interest in a well-functioning judicial branch, and ahead of the constitutional responsibility of the Senate to do its job of providing advice and consent on presidential appointments,” the letter states.

Senate Republicans have allowed just 16 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.

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