Senate Republicans Have Not Confirmed A Single Judicial Nominee In More Than Two Months

While GOP Refuses To Act, Judicial Vacancies Increase To 90; And Because Of GOP Inaction, SCOTUS Nominee Merrick Garland Has Been Pending For Six Months

WASHINGTON - Senate Republicans have not allowed the confirmation of a single judicial nomination since July while at the same time refusing to give Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland a hearing or a vote.  On Thursday, Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy said that Republicans should confirm the backlog of judicial nominees, including Chief Judge Garland, before leaving town for another recess. 

“The Republican leadership should not schedule recess until we confirm Chief Judge Garland and the 30 judicial nominees pending on the Executive Calendar,” said Leahy, who as chairman of the Judiciary Committee in 2008 steered 10 of President Bush’s judicial nominees to confirmation in the month of September alone.  Those 10 confirmations reduced the number of judicial vacancies all the way to 34, roughly one-third of the 90 that exist today.  “There is no good reason we cannot do for these nominees this September what I did for President Bush’s judicial nominees eight years ago.” 

Among the nominees pending on the Senate calendar are five nominees to fill vacancies on the Court of Federal Claims (CFC).  All five were nominated over two years ago, and they were unanimously approved by the Judiciary Committee twice.  One of those nominees, Armando Bonilla, would be the first Hispanic judge to hold a seat on the CFC if he is confirmed.  Yet Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) continues to block these nominees. 

Senate Republicans have also refused to confirm the longest pending district court nominees on the calendar, Edward Stanton of Tennessee and Julien Neals of New Jersey, despite the support of their Republican and Democratic home state Senators.  

At the same time, Republicans have taken the unprecedented step of denying even a hearing for Chief Judge Garland, the Supreme Court nominee who was unanimously awarded the American Bar Association’s highest ratingBecause of Republican obstruction, Garland is now the longest pending Supreme Court nominee in history.  If Senate Republicans do not take up his nomination this month, the Supreme Court will begin its new term without a ninth justice and will continue to be unable to serve as the final arbiter of law. 

“There is still time for Republicans to change course and allow the Senate to do its job on Chief Judge Garland’s nomination in time for the new term,” Leahy said.  “As we mark Constitution Day tomorrow, it is wrong that we face a constitutional crisis solely because of Republican inaction, but it is a constitutional crisis they can fix.”

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