by Jeremy Leaming
Against the backdrop of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing today of several federal district and circuit judicial nominees who were re-nominated by President Obama, pressure is mounting from a variety of sources on the Senate to stop the harmful delay and take immediate action on languishing judicial nominations.
The New York Times noted in an editorial called, "An Extreme Judicial Blockade," that the Senate Judiciary Committee was set to consider earlier today "nominees for the federal district and circuit court judgeships who have already been approved by the committee once, or even twice."
The editorial highlighted the re-nomination of Goodwin Liu, associate dean and professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law. If confirmed Liu "would be the only Asian-American serving as an active judge on the United State Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit." The newspaper notes that Liu (pictured) "went to Stanford, was awarded a Rhodes scholarship and graduated from Yale Law School. He clerked for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before beginning" his teaching career at one of the nation's top law schools. "Indeed," the editorial maintains, "it is largely his stellar background that is fueling Republican opposition. Mr. Liu, who is 39, is seen as a strong possibility to be on President Obama's short list for a future Supreme Court vacancy."
Marcia D. Greenberger, of the National Women's Law Center, in a column for The Huffington Post, wrote, "Commentators and journalists have been focusing recently on the pace of confirmations to federal judicial positions - and for good reason. Procedural roadblocks have become routine even for nominees with bipartisan support - resulting in a dramatic slowdown in judicial confirmations."
ACS distributed to Senate leaders a letter from former federal court judges appointed by both Democratic and Republican presidents calling for the delays to end. "At this moment, our courts are overburdened and increasingly certain vacancies are being designated as ‘emergencies' by the Administrative Office of the Courts because of the length of time the court has been without a judge. This situation is untenable for a country that believes in the rule of law," the judges maintain in their letter.
The Senate committee, largely along party lines, advanced four of the five nominees, including Liu, who had been re-nominated, the Legal Times reports.
Following the committee's work, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy blasted the ongoing obstruction of the judicial nominations process.
"A number of recent articles have discussed the judicial vacancy crisis that has been created by the Republican strategy of slow-walking consideration of non-controversial nominations," said Leahy in a press statement. "These include district court nominations, which have traditionally been considered without delays, and have never before been targeted for obstruction by Democrats or Republicans when supported by their home state Senators. There is no good reason to hold up consideration for weeks and months of nominees reported unanimously from the Judiciary Committee."