This excerpt is from a piece that originally ran on December 19, 2021.
“They are killing it, and that’s an understatement,” says Dan Goldberg with Alliance for Justice. “For progressives, it’s a great year for judges.”
Democrats have risen to the challenge posed by Trump’s example. Five more Circuit Court nominees are awaiting Senate action, and 26 District Court nominees are in the pipeline. That still leaves 16 vacancies on the Circuit Courts and 46 on the District Courts, and a tougher road ahead, says AFJ’s Goldberg.
“As we go into the New Year, the test for Democrats is to identify nominees with bipartisan support,” he says, explaining that Biden’s successful first year rests mainly on filling vacancies in District Courts where there are Democratic senators. One exception is Ohio where retiring Republican Senator, Rob Portman, worked with Democrat Sherrod Brown to confirm a Biden nominee.
“Democrats were not blind obstructionists when dealing with President Trump,” says Goldberg, but whether Republicans will work with Democrats next year on judges is an open question. If they are “blind obstructionists,” then the pressure will be on Judiciary Chair Durbin to scrap the “blue slip” Senate tradition that allows home state senators to block District Court nominees they don’t like without explanation.
“I cannot emphasize enough the quality of these appointments,” says Dan Goldberg. “They bring a different kind of lived experience, and that will lead to a bench that is more protective of constitutional rights and equality before the law.”