SCOTUS Deadlocks Show The Cost Of GOP Obstruction

Leahy: SCOTUS Deadlocks Show The Cost Of GOP Obstruction

“Based on the deadlocks and delays we have seen, it is clear that Senate Republicans
are not acting responsibly.”

WASHINGTON (Monday, June 27, 2016) – The conclusion of the Supreme Court’s term today highlighted the importance of the High Court to millions of Americans and their families, whose lives are in legal limbo because of the Court’s repeated inability to decide cases on the merits, Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said Monday.

The eight-member Supreme Court has failed to resolve cases on the merits seven times since February, including twice in a single day last month and again last week when the Court was unable to reach a decision about President Obama’s executive action to defer the deportation of parents and children to prioritize deportation of dangerous criminals.

Those deadlocks and repeated failures to resolve cases, Leahy said, are the direct result of Senate Republicans who continue to refuse to give a hearing and a vote to Chief Judge Merrick Garland who would fill a critical vacancy on the Supreme Court.

“The Supreme Court’s inability to serve its highest function under the Constitution has left millions of families across the country waiting for justice and uncertain of the law. This is the devastating reality for vulnerable immigrant families who are wondering whether they will be torn apart after the Court deadlocked last week in a case concerning enforcement of the President’s executive action on immigration,” Leahy said in a statement on the Senate floor.

He added: “Instead of scheduling a hearing for this impeccably qualified nominee, Republicans are holding Chief Judge Garland’s nomination hostage in their hopes that the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee can make a different nomination. This is the same candidate who has accused a sitting Federal judge of bias simply because of his heritage.”

At the lower courts, vacancies, including emergency vacancies, continue to rise because of Republican obstruction of judicial nominees. Senate Republicans have allowed just 20 judicial nominees to be confirmed since taking over the majority last year. In sharp contrast, the Democratic-controlled Senate confirmed 68 judicial nominees in the last two years of President Bush’s tenure.

Judicial vacancies have nearly doubled since Republicans took control of the Senate. Today, there are 83 judicial vacancies, from the Supreme Court to district courts throughout the country. At this same point in President George W. Bush’s final year in office, a Democratic Senate majority worked to reduce judicial vacancies to just 39. The same Democratically-controlled Senate also confirmed 28 nominees in 2008, including 10 in September of that election year.

Leahy called on Republicans to consider all pending nominees so that the Federal judiciary can fully function.

“It is the Senate’s duty to ensure that our independent judiciary can function,” he said. “Based on the deadlocks and delays we have seen, it is clear that Senate Republicans are not acting responsibly. Senate Republicans must act on Chief Judge Garland’s nomination, as well as the 25 judicial nominations that are languishing on the Senate floor.”

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The Diminished Supreme Court:
Unable To Reach A Final Decision In Seven Cases

“Here is a real-world consequence of the Senate Republican leadership’s refusal to consider President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court: the dashed hopes of more than 4 million immigrants living in fear of deportation.” (Los Angeles Times editorial, 6/23/16)

  • Whether the President can defer the deportation of parents and children to prioritize deportation of dangerous criminals (United States v. Texas) (4:4);
  • Whether employers can deny women employees access to contraception coverage (Zubik v. Burwell) (remand because unable to decide on the merits);
  • Whether consumers can sue companies for misuse of private information (Spokeo v. Robins) (remand without reaching decision on key question of the case);
  • Whether public-sector unions can recover fair-share costs for collective bargaining (Friedrichs v. California Teachers Ass’n) (4:4);
  • Whether lenders can discriminate against married women (Hawkins v. Community Bank of Raymore) (4:4);
  • Whether a person can sue another state (Franchise Tax Board of California v. Hyatt) (4:4 on the issue);
  • Whether tribal courts can hold non tribal wrongdoers on tribal lands civilly liable (Dollar General Corp. v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians) (4:4).

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