by Jeremy Leaming
President Obama urged Republican senators to stop holding up his judicial nominations earlier this week, but according to The Huffington Post the president “appears to have gotten a cool reception.”
This is disheartening, but hardly surprising. As noted here frequently, Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-K.Y.) has led an assault on the federal judiciary, by stalling for months or effectively filibustering many of the president’s judicial selections. Senators have employed numerous tactics under McConnell to slow or kill numerous judicial nominations thereby leading to a high vacancy rate on the federal bench. The Constitutional Accountability Center’s Judith E. Schaeffer noted today that Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Ranking Member, again delayed a vote on the nomination of Jane Kelly to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Citing numbers from People For the American Way, she notes that “with only five exceptions” Republicans on the Judiciary Committee have used a procedural tactic that allows them to delay a scheduled vote on a nominee.
Other judicial nominees have dropped out of the confirmation process because of the delaying tactics. The Senate this week confirmed Richard Taranto to a seat on the federal appeals court bench nearly a year and a half after he was nominated.
These stalling tactics are used far too often by the Republican obstructionists, including the use of the 60-vote majority -- or the threat of it -- to allow for up-or-down votes on too many of the president’s judicial nominations.
So it is laughable – or galling – to hear Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) tell The Huffington Post reporter that as he understands it, his party has only blocked “two judges.” (He’s referring to Caitlin Halligan and Goodwin Liu.)
Senate Republicans regardless of their loopy claims to the contrary are bent on dragging their feet on the president’s judicial nominations, while vacancies on the federal bench grow as do caseloads of individual judges. Moran knows that but he’s apparently not above dissembling on the matter.