Senate Finally Acts to Confirm First Judicial Nominee In Two Months, But Dozens More Await Action—Including SCOTUS Nominee

Republicans Held Up Tennessee District Court Nominee For 14 Months

WASHINGTON (Monday, April 11, 2016) – After previously blocking his nomination, Senate Republicans today are finally allowing the confirmation of Waverly Crenshaw, an African-American nominee who will fill a judicial emergency vacancy on the district court for the Middle District of Tennessee.

However, 19 more judicial nominees are awaiting Senate action on the floor and dozens more are pending in the Judiciary Committee—including D.C. Circuit Chief Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court.  Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said this partisan obstruction threatens the independent federal judiciary.

“The American people expect Senators to do their jobs,” Leahy said in a statement.  “This is true with judicial nominations to the lower courts, but it is even more crucial for the Supreme Court of the United States because no one can fill in for the vacant seat on our highest court.  In just the last few weeks, the Supreme Court has deadlocked twice so it was unable to serve its highest constitutional function.  Refusing to consider Chief Judge Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court is not only unfair to him, it is irresponsible and a threat to a functioning democracy.” 

Leahy added: “Simply meeting with Chief Judge Garland is not enough.  The Senate must act on his nomination.

No pending Supreme Court nominee has been denied a hearing and a vote since public hearings began in 1916, yet Senate Republicans refuse to follow well-established precedent and schedule a public hearing for Garland.  At the same time, they are blocking lower court nominees with Republican support from being confirmed to vacancies throughout the country. 

With Crenshaw’s expected confirmation today, Senate Republicans will have allowed just 17 judicial nominees to be confirmed since taking over the majority last year.  In the final two years of the Bush administration, the Senate Democratic majority had confirmed 68 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. 

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