Broken Judicial Nominations Process Limps Into Lame-Duck Session
Alliance for Justice Calls for Senate to End Obstruction and Give Final Votes to Long-Stalled, Diverse Nominees
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Washington, D.C., November 8, 2010—The lame-duck Congress is returning from the election to considerable unfinished business, but none more important than the ongoing breakdown of the judicial nominations process. Alliance for Justice is calling on the Senate to use the lame-duck session to provide final votes on all pending judicial nominees.
Unprecedented Republican tactics of procedural obstruction have left 23 Obama nominees languishing on the Senate floor, 17 of whom were reported out of the Judiciary Committee without Republican opposition. Meanwhile, while the Senate dithers, the Administrative Office of the Courts has declared “judicial emergencies” in 50 federal courts, affecting 30 states, meaning there aren’t enough judges to adequately serve the needs of justice.
In addition to being desperately needed and largely uncontroversial, these nominees represent the hope of creating a federal judiciary that is representative of our nation’s demographic diversity. Thirteen of the pending nominees are people of color and 10 are women. Many would be historic “firsts” in their respective courts if confirmed to the bench.
Though these nominees have been awaiting votes for far too long, lame-duck sessions have frequently been an occasion when judicial nominees are approved. For instance, during the 2002 lame-duck session in a closely split Senate, President George W. Bush had 20 nominees confirmed, all but one on a voice vote, including controversial circuit court nominee Michael McConnell.
According to AFJ President Nan Aron, “These historic levels of obstruction have serious consequences for American courts. The Senate needs to put aside partisan rancor, perform the task the Constitution has assigned to it, and confirm these qualified, diverse judges to the federal bench. It would be an unforgiveable tragedy if obstructionism during the lame-duck Congress helped create a lame-duck judiciary.”
For a comprehensive report on the Obama Administration track record on judicial nominees during the President’s first 20 months, see www.afj.org/check-the-facts/nominees/afj-report-state-of-the-judiciary-obama-at-20-months.pdf.
Alliance for Justice is a national association of over 100 organizations dedicated to advancing justice and democracy. For more than 30 years, AFJ has led the fight for a more equitable society on behalf of a broad constituency of environmental, consumer, civil and women's rights, children's, senior citizens' and other groups. Alliance for Justice is premised on the belief that all Americans have the right to secure justice in the courts and to have our voices heard when government makes decisions that affect our lives.