04.26.16

Senate Republicans Continue Blocking Consensus Judicial Nominees

Only 1 Lower Court Nominee Confirmed In Last 2 Months, 20 More Await Senate Action

WASHINGTON (Tuesday, April 26, 2016) – Senate Republicans, who are refusing to hold a hearing and a vote for Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, are also refusing to vote on 20 lower court nominees who are waiting to serve on courts around the country.  On Tuesday, Republicans blocked the confirmation of 11 federal district court nominees—including nominees with Republican support. 

“There is no good reason that judicial nominees praised by Republican Senators should be blocked by Republican leadership from receiving a vote on the Senate floor,” Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said Tuesday.  “This is about ensuring that courts around the country have the judges they need so that justice is not delayed any further.  Republican Senators who have judicial nominees from their states awaiting votes should impress upon their leaders the importance of a fully functioning judiciary.”

Nominees from Maryland, New Jersey, Nebraska, Tennessee, New York, California, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania have all been pending on the Senate floor for months.  While these nominees all have the support of their home state Senators and were voice voted out of the Judiciary Committee, Republicans refuse to schedule any confirmation votes.  At the same time, Republicans continue to block President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee from even coming before the Judiciary Committee for a hearing.

Senate Republicans have allowed just 17 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. 

The result of Republican obstruction these last two years has been an uptick in judicial vacancies across the country.  When Senate Republicans took over the majority in January of last year, there were 43 judicial vacancies.  Since then, vacancies have dramatically increased more than 75 percent to 79.   The number of judicial vacancies deemed to be “emergencies” by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has more than doubled under Republican Senate leadership – from 12 when Republicans took over last year to 28 today. 

“We can reduce the vacant judgeships if Republican leadership would allow timely votes on the pending judicial nominees on the Executive Calendar,” Leahy said.  “All of the members of the Judiciary Committee have considered these nominees and there were no Republican objections.  There is no good reason for any further delay in confirming them.” 

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