Better late than never, but President Obama is finally pressing the Senate to confirm his long-stalled judicial nominees.
In a letter delivered yesterday to key Senators, Obama demanded an end to GOP obstructive tactics that are preventing dozens of non-controversial judges from being confirmed.
“I write to express my concern with the pace of judicial confirmations in the United States
Senate,” Obama wrote. “Yesterday, the Senate recessed without confirming a single one of the 23 Federal judicial nominations pending on the Executive Calendar…. At this point in the prior Administration (107th Congress), the Senate had confirmed 61% of the President’s judicial nominations. By contrast, the Senate has confirmed less than half of the judicial nominees it has received in my Administration. Nominees in the 107th Congress waited less than a month on the floor of the Senate before a vote on their confirmation. The men and women whom I have nominated who have been confirmed to the Courts of Appeals waited five times longer and those confirmed to the District Courts waited three times longer for final votes.”
In the letter, which was delivered to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and the chairman and ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, Obama lays the blame for the stall on the GOP.
“By denying these nominees a simple up-or-down vote, the Republican leadership is undermining the ability of our courts to deliver justice to those in need,” Obama wrote.
A recent Associated Press report documented that the GOP obstruction has slowed confirmations to such an extent that, when you factor in retirements, federal district courts have actually moved to the right under Obama.
“A determined Republican stall campaign in the Senate has sidetracked so many of the men and women nominated by President Barack Obama for judgeships that he has put fewer people on the bench than any president since Richard Nixon at a similar point in his first term 40 years ago,” the report read. “Because of retirements, the percentage of Republican-nominated district judges actually has gone up.”
Yesterday, Democrats blocked a GOP threat to force Obama to renominate a host of nominees. As a consequence, the President will not be able to recess appoint anybody — including judges.
You can read the full letter here.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.