As noted yesterday in an ACSblog guest post by Glenn Sugameli, senators left town yesterday without confirming one nominee, and that now the situation is only likely to worsen. In his letter, Obama noted that the Senate recessed "without confirming a single one of the 23 Federal judicial nominations pending on the Executive Calendar."
At this time in the prior Administration (107 th Congress), the Senate had confirmed 61% of the President's judicial nominations. By contrast, the Senate has confirmed less than half of the judicial nominations it has received in my Administration. Nominees in the 107 th 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 Court of Appeals waited five times longer and those confirmed to the District Courts waited three times longer for final votes.
And the drawn-out confirmation process is producing rising vacancies on the federal bench placing the nation's "judiciary on a dangerous course, as the Department of Justice projects that fully half of the Federal judiciary will be vacant by 2020 if we continue on the current pace of judicial confirmations," the president wrote.
The real harm of this political game-playing falls on the American people, who turn to the courts for justice. By denying these nominations a simple up-or-down vote, the Republican leadership is undermining the ability of our courts to deliver justice those in need.
As he did during a recent speech before the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, Obama highlighted his selection of Judge Albert Diaz to the U.S. Court of Apples for the Fourth Circuit. Although the Senate judiciary committee has approved the nomination of Diaz, he has "waited 245 days for an up-or-down vote - more than 8 months," the president wrote.
The president's entire letter is available here. Justices Anthony Kennedy and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Attorney General Eric Holder, and a group of former federal court judges have also joined in urging the Senate to stop holding up judicial nominations.