Senate Won’t Fill Unprecedented Vacancies in the Federal Court System

In November, the Senate voted on and passed anti-filibuster laws that make it easier for Federal judges to be appointed. The Senate also changed its rule on cloture, which lowered the requirement for confirming a judicial nominee to a simple majority from a 60-vote supermajority.

In fact, these actions allowed the Senate to confirm Patricia Millett and Nina Pillard to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Had they required the supermajority, neither of these women would have been appointed despite their excellent qualifications. The Senate was also able to confirm Robert Wilkins, an African American judge, to the D.C. District Court.

While this is a gain, there are a plethora of other options that senators can use to prevent the president from nominating judges that don’t require a filibuster. In fact, the general consensus is that some of these tactics are much more dangerous than filibusters which often receive national press and attention. The options left for senators are more quiet and don’t gain national attention. According to Women’s eNews:

Some refuse to attend hearings. Others refuse to cooperate with the president in nominating judges from their state. Or senators from the state of residence of a federal judicial nominee refuse to turn in blue slips containing their opinions of the nominee, thereby preventing nominees from receiving a hearing at all. White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler declared the blue-slip rule for judges more problematic than the filibuster, in part because it is a silent, unaccountable veto.

This is a considerable problem. The federal district and appellate courts are facing an unprecedented number of vacancies. 93 positions remain unfilled, and those vacancies considered judicial emergencies has risen 100 percent since 2008. This means that the American people living in jurisdictions where there are judicial emergencies are not able to have their cases ruled on in a timely fashion. To give you an idea of some of the issues that aren’t being heard, federal judges rule on issues impacting health care, immigration, marriage equality and the environment among many others.

Fortunately, President Obama has nominated women to federal judiciary positions more than any other previous president, and at twice the rate of former President George W. Bush. With more women and racial minorities in the judiciary system, the U.S. will start to have a more diverse court system that is reflective of the people living in this country. Unfortunately, however, the Senate is stalling on appointing many of those nominees. Women make up only 30 percent of federal judges, and it is time for that to change.

Here’s what you can do to help the process along. First, sign the petition below telling the Senate to stop stalling and to approve these diverse judges to the courts. Second, tell your senators to return blue slips and give the president names of judges. We must do all we can to stop this judicial emergency!

Photo Credit: walknboston

80 comments

Jim Ven
Jim Ven4 months ago

thanks for the article.

Charlotte S.
Charlotte S.2 years ago

It's time to fire all who can't understand their jobs in this republic. We need adults not spoiled children and I'm talking about BOTH parties.

Robert Hamm
Robert Hamm2 years ago

Yes and every opposition has had to work with the President. THIS congress refuses rto do so.
They will NOT let the economy recover (except for the rich who have done amazingly well) until Obama is gone. The right has decdied liberal thought should simply not be allowed.

Deborah W.
Deborah W.2 years ago

Retire the position, in which we the people will be poorly represented anyway given the minimal requirements that must be met.

Dangerous to leave the position vacant until a "suitable" candidate can be found guaranteed to rule favorably on issues near and dear to those who set them in place.

Franck R.
Frank R.2 years ago

Interesting

Robert Hamm
Robert Hamm2 years ago

Actually Paul its CONGRESS that has made their NUMBER ONE GOAL since he has been elected to be a one term president to shit him down., But you go ahead and delude yourself into thinking Obama is the problem. Your Obama hate is well known and by now ignored.

Congress will do NOTHING to help Obama do anything period. Every bill he presented they tried to attach tax cuts for the wealthy to. Every bill they themselves presented had the same thing. There has been virtually NO NONE NADA attempt by this congress to ever compromise with Obama. They have held him in contempt from tthe very day he was elected. All the things that congress has done to neuter the President have been documented fully on this site over and over for the last 5 years. You can rewrite history if you wish…….but half of the shit is on video tape. The Right in Congress has wanted from day one for Obama to be a failed presidency. They have made absolutely NO bones about it.

Deborah W.
Deborah W.2 years ago

Retire the position, in which we the people will be poorly represented anyway given the minimal requirements that must be met.

Dangerous to leave the position vacant until a "suitable" candidate can be found guaranteed to rule favorably on issues near and dear to those who set them in place.

Dianne T.
Dianne T.2 years ago

Congress cannot accomplish much of anything until Obama really sits down to tries to work with them or the USA gets a new president.

Paul B.
Paul B.2 years ago

Robert, I will believe what you say if and when Obama actually takes the time to negotiate, debate and discuss the issues HE wants to get passed. so far all I have seen is a MY way or the Highway attitude. that is NOT leadership, that is dictating policy, whining when you don't get YOUR way.

Every president has had to "work with" the opposition, Reagan had 8 years of Dem control of Congress and still managed to get a lot accomplished. Obama can't seem to be bothered with governing. All he knows is "this is what I want, now I will find a way to get it, regardless of what I have to do to get it." Sounding much like a spoiled child... which in many ways he has been treated that way his whole adult life, coddled and pushed way beyond his capability... so what should we have expected?

Robert Hamm
Robert Hamm2 years ago

Obama doesnt WANT to rule by fiat……he is being FORCED to because the right will not compromise on ANYTHING!!!! They wont even vote for shit they have ALWAYS voted for……and when they get a Republican in the whitehouse they will vote favorably on those items once again. You are simply overcome with Obama Hate. I dont hate him or love him.
Very few liberals think he is the annointed one……..that is a name the right loves to use.