Wisconsin’s 126-year tradition of selecting the chief justice by seniority has ended, thanks to a ballot measure pushed aggressively by Republican lawmakers (no Democrat in either the Senate or Assembly voted for it) and conservative big-money special interest groups.
After months of delay, a unanimous U.S. Senate on Monday confirmed Alfred Bennett to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, cracking open slightly a national logjam of judicial nominations and a backlog of cases.
The Senate will do something next week that it hasn’t done all year: confirm a judicial nominee. Despite talk when they took charge of the Senate this year that they would move nominees at the same pace Democrats did when they controlled the Senate, Republicans haven’t done much of anything to fill vacancies on federal courts. They’ve only voted five judicial nominees out of committee since January.