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Because of Minority’s Obstruction, Senate Accomplishes 2/17 of What It Could Have; Punts 19 Judicial Nominations To Lame Duck

Last week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to allow the Senate to vote on 17 district court nominees. Despite the historically high level of vacancies, the significant number of nominees (12) who would fill judicial emergencies, and the fact that most of these 17 nominees were voted out of committee without objection, obstruction won the day. And, indeed, the whole session: the Senate adjourned early in the morning of September 22nd, having voted on 2 district court nominees, for a total of 3 votes on district court judges in its entire September work period. Not what you’d call impressive by any means. Read more »

Obstruction in Senate Leaves Millions of Americans Waiting for Justice

In a move that should outrage even the hardest-hearted cynic, yesterday Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to allow votes on 17 district court nominees, even though almost all were reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee without objection, and 12 of them have been nominated to courts that are so overwhelmed that the vacant seats have been designated “judicial emergencies.” Many have been waiting for months for a vote on the Senate floor. And confirming these nominees would have reduced the number of judicial vacancies by over one-fifth. Read more »

Tenth Circuit Nominee With Bipartisan Support Is Filibustered. Incredible.

Last night, a cloture vote was held on the nomination of Robert Bacharach to an Oklahoma-based seat on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. The cloture vote failed, which is to say, his nomination was filibustered.

As I mentioned last week, Judge Bacharach has a stellar legal resume and, supposedly, the strong support of his home-state Senators Coburn and Inhofe. That unqualified support manifested itself yesterday in the form of those two Senators voting “present,” rather than “yes” or “no.” Unfortunately for Judge Bacharach, his supporters’ “presents” did not count as votes to cut off debate, so a vote to confirm him cannot go forward at this time. Read more »

In Case You Thought It Couldn’t Get Any Worse in the Senate: The Judicial Nominations Edition

Last week, I lamented that, in an era of 70+ judicial vacancies and 20+ nominees cooling their heels waiting for a vote, the Senate is only managing to schedule votes on one district court nominee per week. Read more »

Tell Your Senators to Stop Obstruction of Judicial Nominees

We are starting 2012 much as we ended 2011 -- with a minority of U.S. Senators blocking confirmation votes on federal judicial nominees. Most recently, Senator Mike Lee of Utah announced his intention to block votes on all judicial and executive branch nominees. Even though a nominee to a Utah court -- whom Senator Lee supports -- is waiting for a vote, Senator Lee won't back down.

If this sounds familiar, it's because we've seen the same story play out over and over. Enough is enough: tell your Senators to vote on ALL judicial nominees.

There are 18 nominees ready for a Senate vote, eight of whom are women. If these eight women are confirmed, the gender diversity of two circuit courts and numerous district courts around the country would increase significantly. While President Obama's nominees have been more diverse than any prior President's, the Senate has to confirm them in order for people needing justice to actually benefit from a more diverse bench. Read more »

Obstruction Has a Name, and It’s Senator Mike Lee

Even for the most dedicated political nerd, the twists and turns of Senate process can be opaque. When is a failed cloture petition a filibuster? Who objected to the unanimous consent request? Why did everyone agree to two hours of debate when they’re just going to fill them up with quorum calls? And don’t get me started on secret holds.

In contrast, Utah Senator Mike Lee has forthrightly owned up to his recent decision to block all judicial and executive branch nominations. Senator Lee said, flat-out, last week, “I find myself duty-bound to resist the consideration and approval of additional nominations.” (Senator Lee made clear that this blockade is in protest of President Obama’s recess appointments of Richard Cordray and three NLRB commissioners).

Unfortunately, the action that Senator Lee is helpfully owning up to is one of devastating scope and wide-ranging impact. Read more »