The Senate’s slow pace when it comes to considering and confirming judicial nominations has been gaining more attention in recent months, as the judicial vacancy crisis becomes more and more apparent. Courts across the nation are suffering under enormous caseloads, and Americans seeking justice are being forced to wait longer and longer to have their day in court.
Republican obstruction in the last Congress left President Obama with the lowest percentage of approved judicial nominees at the end of his first two years of any President in American history.
The Washington Post noted this destructive trend in a hard-hitting editorial.
Yet the Senate has confirmed just 35 Obama judicial nominees this year — with only three for the courts of appeals. The responsibility for lingering vacancies now lies primarily with Capitol Hill.
What excuse is there to hold up confirmation for uncontroversial trial court nominees? Kathleen Williams, for example, had the support of her home-state senators — Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Marco Rubio — and was designated to fill a judicial emergency vacancy on an overwhelmed court in the Southern District of Florida. Ms. Williams was one of the lucky four who finally earned confirmation this month from a unanimous Senate — more than a year after Mr. Obama originally nominated her.
There are 112 federal district and circuit court vacancies, and 56 pending nominees.
For more on the judicial vacancy crisis, and reports on nominees and confirmations, see Alliance for Justice’s Judicial Selection Project.