In addition to continuing their refusal to hold a hearing for President Obama’s Supreme Court Nominee, Merrick Garland, Senate Republicans yesterday also blocked floor votes to confirm eleven federal district court judge nominees.
The eleven blocked nominees—from Maryland, New Jersey, Nebraska, Tennessee, New York, California, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania—have already been approved by the Senate Judiciary committee and are awaiting a final vote by the full Senate. Each nominee has the support of their home state Senator, some of whom are Republican.
“There is no good reason that judicial nominees praised by Republican Senators should be blocked by Republican leadership from receiving a vote on the Senate floor,” said Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). “This is about ensuring that courts around the country have the judges they need so that justice is not delayed any further. Republican Senators who have judicial nominees from their states awaiting votes should impress upon their leaders the importance of a fully functioning judiciary.”
Though the Supreme Court vacancy has garnered much of the attention in recent months, 79 seats on appellate and district courts have remained vacant while nominees await confirmation. This sharp uptick in judicial vacancies is a cause for concern as lower courts struggle to hear and decide on all of the cases in their docket. In fact, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has classified 28 of these vacancies are “emergencies” because of the backlog.
Because most cases never reach the U.S. Supreme Court, federal courts are crucial in allowing individuals to get justice. Federal judges are the ones who often reign in overzealous state legislatures who seek to curtail civil liberties, reproductive rights, and measures bolstering equality for women, LGBTQ people, and people of color.
“We can reduce the vacant judgeships if Republican leadership would allow timely votes on the pending judicial nominees on the Executive Calendar,” Leahy continued. “All of the members of the Judiciary Committee have considered these nominees and there were no Republican objections. There is no good reason for any further delay in confirming them.”
Continued Republican judicial obstructionism has driven advocates to call on Senators to #DoYourJob.