by Nicole Flatow
The Senate is scheduled to adjourn a week from today for the remainder of the summer, and negotiating a deficit reduction deal is not the only business they risk leaving unfinished.
In a letter sent yesterday to Sens. Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell, American Bar Association President Stephen N. Zach calls attention to the remaining “long-standing vacancies on courts with staggering caseloads” that the Senate has failed to fill by confirming President Obama’s nominees.
Twenty-five nominees have been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee and are ripe for an immediate confirmation vote by the Senate, but no votes have been scheduled.
In his letter, Zach asks Reid and McConnell to schedule “immediate up-or-down votes” before the August recess on 20 nominees who were reported out of the Committee without a single opposition vote.
“As lawyers who practice in federal courts across this nation, ABA members know firsthand that long-standing vacancies on courts with staggering caseloads impede access to the courts and create strains that willinevitably reduce the quality of our justice system and erode public confidence in the ability of the courts to vindicate constitutional rights or render fair and timely decisions,” Zach writes.
But, he adds, confirming these 20 nominees immediately is just a beginning.
“To achieve a significant and lasting reduction in the vacancy rate, both the Administration and the Senate need to engage in a concerted and sustained effort to expedite the process,” he writes.
Recently, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida Chief Judge Federico A. Moreno also submitted letters to Reid and McConnell calling on them to “expedite the confirmation” of his district’s nominees.
“Unfilled positions in our Court present an undue hardship on the citizens residing in the Southern District of Florida, particularly those with cases pending in the affected division of the Court,” Moreno writes.
To learn more about the judicial vacancy crisis and follow developments, visit JudicialNominatons.org.