After the State of the Union when President Obama criticized Republican Senators for obstructionism, saying “The confirmation of well-qualified public servants should not be held hostage to the pet projects or grudges of a few individual Senators.” We have decided to start a new series titled “American Idle” chronicling the nominees who have been or are currently being held hostage in the Senate.
On Wednesday, Alliance for Justice blasted Senate Republicans for holding hostage a highly qualified and uncontroversial nominee. Unopposed in the Senate Judiciary Committee, Judge Joseph Greenaway was nominated by President Obama to the Third Circuit Court of Appeal on June 19, 2009. A “hold” has been placed on his nomination.
Before his appointment to the United States District Court in New Jersey by President Clinton in 1995, Greenaway served as a litigator, prosecutor and in-house counsel. While on the federal bench, Judge Greenaway amassed a record and a reputation for taking the facts of each case one by one, without professing allegiance to a larger interpretational framework or ideology, and a willingness to both examine the nuances of individual cases and engage larger constitutional issues.
If confirmed, Judge Greenaway would be only the 15th judge confirmed since the beginning of this Congress.
Although President Obama has nominated highly qualified attorneys and judges to the federal bench, Republicans have consistently responded by either delaying the votes or outright attacking individual nominees. Republican senators have threatened filibusters or used the practice of putting a “hold” on a nominee to prevent up-or-down votes from taking place.
To his credit, Senator Leahy (D-VT), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has held prompt hearings on all of President Obama’s nominees. But, as a result of abandoning the tradition of challenging only highly controversial nominations, Republicans indefinitely blocked votes on the floor even though many nominees were reported out of committee months earlier. Complicating matters further, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), struggled to find the floor time needed to overcome filibuster threats, which take an entire day of Senate floor time, while the Chamber was mired in health care reform.
By the end of December, the Senate had voted on only 13 nominees. By comparison, in President George W. Bush’s first 17 months, the Democratically-controlled Senate, with Senator Leahy chairing the Judiciary Committee, confirmed 100 nominees.
Republicans are abusing Senate rules and are again putting politics ahead of placing qualified judges who will uphold our constitutional values on our nation’s courts. It is time for Republicans to put the needs of Americans above their partisan politics, their hypocrisy has already delayed justice for too long.