10.05.15

Republican Obstruction Threatens Confirmation Of Consensus Nominees

Even Those Nominees With Republican Support May Not Be Confirmed This Year

WASHINGTON (Monday, October 5, 2015) – Under Republican control, the Senate this year is on pace to confirm the fewest number of judges in more than a half century.  If Republicans continue their obstruction, most of the 16 nominees on the executive calendar will not be confirmed before the end of the year.

“If the Majority Leader continues with his obstruction, and if home state Senators cannot persuade him to schedule a vote for their nominees soon, then it is unlikely that even highly qualified nominees with Republican support will be confirmed by the end of the year,” Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said, adding: “Those home state Republican Senators who have issued press releases and publicly supported their judicial nominees should take the next step to push their leaders to schedule up-or-down votes.”

Among those nominees being held up is Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo, who was nominated last year to fill an emergency vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Pennsylvania.  Restrepo was unanimously confirmed two years ago by the Senate to serve as a district court judge, and his nomination to the circuit court has the support of both Pennsylvania Senators.  Yet despite that backing, Republicans have yet to schedule a vote on Restrepo and his confirmation is now questionable before the end of the year. 

In addition to Restrepo, a pair of district court nominees from Tennessee has also been pending for months: Waverly Crenshaw would fill an emergency vacancy on the Middle District of Tennessee, and Travis McDonough, who was first nominated last year, would fill a vacancy on the Eastern District of Tennessee.  Both nominees have the support of the Tennessee’s two Republicans Senators and were overwhelmingly approved by the Judiciary Committee months ago.

In total, 16 nominees are awaiting consideration by the full Senate, including 7 to fill emergency vacancies.  The Senate is poised on Monday to confirm the nomination of Judge Dale Drozd to be a Federal district judge in the Eastern District of California, making him just the seventh nominee confirmed by the Republican Senate this year.  At the same point in 2007, when Democrats held the majority, the Senate confirmed 33 judicial nominees.

“This failure to fulfill one of the most basic constitutional responsibilities in the Senate has led to devastating effects for Americans across the country.  Individuals and small businesses that go to our Federal courts seeking justice end up waiting years for overburdened courts to hear their claims,” Leahy said.  “Let us stop with this obstruction and the needless delays.  The Senate Majority leader should schedule Judge Restrepo’s confirmation vote this week and then the other 14 pending nominees without further delay.”

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