Tell Senate Republican leaders: Confirm judges now
It may seem hard to believe, but Merrick Garland is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the unprecedented Republican obstruction of President Obama’s judicial nominees. Because of right-wing Senate Republican leaders who have delayed every step of the judicial selection process, there are currently 90 federal judicial vacancies, including 34 judicial emergencies, in the federal court system.
We depend on the federal courts to protect civil rights, women’s rights, voting rights, and the environment. Right now, the courts can’t do their job because Republican extremists like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley are refusing to confirm judges. Though McConnell and Grassley seem completely entrenched in their extremely unpopular obstruction of Garland, our allies in D.C. say movement is possible on lower court nominations. Now is the time to push them to act.
Even before their unconstitutional refusal to hold hearings and an up-or-down vote on Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court, Senate Republicans were using every trick in the book to cripple the judicial nomination process. And it’s worked. The number of judicial vacancies across the country continues to climb: 34 are classified as judicial emergencies in courts where sitting judges — severely strained by enormous caseloads — are unable to do their jobs. With fewer judges to preside over important cases, the cost of litigation skyrockets, civil cases are harder to settle, evidence gets stale, and criminal defendants are pressured to plead guilty
Right now, 20 nominees have been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, 18 of them on unanimous votes, but Sen. McConnell won’t schedule confirmation votes. Recently, after Senate Democrats pushed to bring nomination votes to the floor, Sen. McConnell proposed voting on a bipartisan package of four judicial nominees. While it was a purely symbolic proposal that left out 16 nominees, including both African-American ones, it’s a sign that McConnell is feeling pressure for his judicial obstruction and may be trying to find a way out.
It’s important to remember that these tactics are just the latest in a long line of Republican attempts to delegitimize President Obama’s authority as president and thwart his agenda, especially his goal of diversifying the federal bench. President Obama has already nominated more than twice as many women and non-white judges than President George W. Bush. He has also named 14 LGBTQ nominees — far more than any other president.
Republicans need to stop playing politics with our federal judicial system and start confirming judges. With McConnell and Grassley feeling the pressure, it’s important to make our voices heard now.
Thanks for standing up for the integrity of our federal courts.
- ”Judicial Selection Snapshot,” Alliance for Justice, September 15, 2016.
- Alicia Bannon, “[The Impact of Judicial Vacancies on Federal Trial Courts],(https://www.brennancenter.org/sites/default/files/publications/Impact%20of%20Judicial%20Vacancies%20072114.pdf),” Brennan Center for Justice, 2014.
- “Mitch McConnell Tried Skipping Over the Two Longest-Waiting Judicial Nominees. They’re Both Black Men.,” The Leadership Conference, September 9, 2016.
- “BROADENING THE BENCH: Professional Diversity and Judicial Nominations,” Alliance for Justice, March 18, 2016.
Originally published at act.credoaction.com.