- Download the full report here
WASHINGTON, D.C., October 24, 2013 – “Pervasive and surreptitious” obstruction of President Obama’s judicial nominees is prolonging an “unprecedented vacancy crisis” in America’s federal courts, according to a new report from Alliance for Justice.
More than ten percent of federal judgeships are vacant, and the number of vacancies deemed “judicial emergencies” has soared by 85 percent since President Obama first took office in 2009.
“Our data show that the overwhelming majority of the blame for this crisis rests squarely with Senate Republicans,” said AFJ President Nan Aron. “Where there still aren’t nominees, it’s usually because Republican Senators are refusing to recommend qualified candidates to fill vacancies in their home states. And where there already are nominees, Republicans continue their unprecedented ‘obstruction of justice’ by continuing to stall those nominees.”
AFJ found that 90 percent of all current vacancies without a nominee are in states with at least one Republican Senator. Fifty-one percent are in states with two Republican Senators.
“That’s no coincidence,” Aron said. “Republicans have cynically abused Senate tradition and refused to approve proposed nominees in their home states. Without that approval—which requires returning a ‘blue slip’—the Senate Judiciary Committee won’t hold a hearing on a nominee. Then these same Republicans turn around and blame the President for not nominating anyone to fill the vacancy.
“This cold, calculated ploy comes at the expense of justice for their own constituents,” Aron said.
The report notes that “In the absence of increased cooperation, it may be time for the White House, the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the full Senate to reconsider the various senatorial courtesies throughout the nomination and confirmation process that have been too often abused as opportunities for obstruction.”