Senate Republicans Have Not Confirmed A Single Judicial Nominee In Over A Month

While Senate Stalls, Judicial Vacancies Increase

WASHINGTON (Tuesday, May 10, 2016) – Senate Republicans, who are refusing to hold a hearing and a vote for Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, once again blocked from confirmation 11 federal district court nominees who would fill vacancies in courts throughout the country. 

Partisan obstruction of the federal judiciary has led to an increase in judicial vacancies, which today stand at 81—sharply up from 43 when Republicans took control of the Senate last year.  To address this looming vacancy crisis, Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) sought Tuesday to confirm 11 nominees pending on the Senate floor.  While confirming these nominees would help alleviate overburdened courts throughout the country, Republicans for the third month in a row refused Democratic requests to confirm any nominees.

“The Senate has not confirmed a single judicial nominee in a month.  Not one.  And yet, Republicans continue to claim the Senate is back to work,” Senator Leahy said.  “When qualified nominees who were unanimously approved by the Judiciary Committee are left waiting for months, the Senate is not working.  It is not fulfilling its constitutional role and it certainly is not doing the job of the American people who deserve prompt justice in our courts.”

Coons, Cardin, and Casey all joined Leahy in calling on Senate Republicans to end their obstruction of judicial nominees.

“Unfortunately, the Senate’s blockade and refusal to fulfill its constitutional obligation on judicial nominations goes far beyond Chief Judge Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court,” Senator Coons said“Frankly, the federal judiciary faces a crisis because of the Senate’s continued inaction to confirm judicial nominees who passed unanimously out of committee.  The number of judicial vacancies has reached an alarming level.  We owe it to the American people to do our job and ensure we have a fully functioning justice system.”

“We need nine justices on the Supreme Court and we need a fully functioning judiciary across the nation. In Maryland, we have an eminently qualified nominee, Paula Xinis, who has been waiting for months to fill a judicial emergency for a vacant seat in Greenbelt.  There are qualified nominees for lower courts who are sitting in limbo because some Senate Republicans are unwilling to do their job and go through the confirmation process.  Much like Judge Garland, many of these nominees once received glowing reviews from the very Senators who are now blocking them,” Senator Cardin said. “It is outrageous that the Senate leadership is deliberately allowing the number of judicial vacancies and judicial emergencies to grow, as justice delayed is justice denied.”

“I am deeply disappointed that Senate Republicans again chose to block passage of these nominees today, including the two highly-qualified nominees from Pennsylvania, Judges Susan Baxter and Marilyn Horan.  It’s time for Senate Republicans to stop the obstruction, do their job and give these nominees fair consideration,” Senator Casey said.  “Even as they continue their outrageous obstruction of the Supreme Court nomination, Senate Republicans have virtually stopped confirming District and Circuit Court nominees, including the five currently pending from Pennsylvania.  People in Pennsylvania and around the country are being denied access to basic justice because there aren’t enough judges to hear cases.  It’s time for Senate Republicans to end the games and do their job.”  

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 81.   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 29 today. 

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