by Jeremy Leaming
Senate Republicans have made a mess of the judicial nominations process, ensuring that the road from nomination to confirmation during President Obama’s first term is incredibly long, arduous and unnecessarily divisive. A likely reason for the judicial nominations debacle centers on Republicans' desire to keep the federal bench tilted as far rightward as possible. So they obstruct judicial selections, keep as many seats open as possible in hopes their Party captures the Senate and White House in November.
But as The New York Times noted in an Oct. 17 editorial at some point very soon the political nonsense needs to stop. It’s obvious. But take a look at JudicialNominations.org, where you’ll see that the federal court system has nearly 80 vacancies, with more than 30 of those vacancies deemed “emergency vacancies” by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts of the federal bench. So as the editorial notes, access to justice continues to be a tougher endeavor since courts are not running efficiently. As The Times puts it:
The holdups have cost Americans dearly — in justice delayed (it now generally takes two years to get a federal civil trial) and justice denied. It is time to adopt a more efficient, less political approach to district court confirmations. The courts must be brought to full strength so they can meet the demands for justice. The next president and the new Senate should make reforming the confirmation process a paramount priority.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has been a leading character in the effort to scuttle the president’s judicial selections, largely for political reasons. Early in the Obama administration, McConnell (pictured) told a gathering at the Heritage Foundation that his Party’s “top political priority” was to deny Obama a second term. If McConnell’s Party can swing that feat, they’ll have plenty of seats to fill and the ability to keep the federal bench tilted rightward.