by Nicole Flatow
Adding to the calls this week from eight Senate Democrats to hold immediate up-or-down votes on the long-pending judicial nominees, American Bar Association President Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III is urging ABA members to ratchet up the pressure on judicial nominations.
“Washington’s partisan gridlock has stymied not just the policy process, but also the responsibility of the Senate to give advice and consent in the nomination process,” Robinson said. “Our federal court system —indispensable to the nation’s economy and the justice and freedoms we cherish — is being quietly undermined by needless deadlock.”
A persistently high rate of judicial vacancies is not without consequence, he explains. It causes backlogs. And backlogs are “bad for business," "unfair to individuals," and slow "government enforcement actions, which ultimately costs taxpayers money.”
In the Central District of Illinois, the chief judge, Jim Holderman, just recently sent a letter to Sen. Dick Durbin, imploring him to do everything in his power to move forward two controversial nominees in his district, considered a judicial emergency.
“The Bottom Line,” said Durbin in his floor statement Tuesday, is that “judicial nominees with no controversy, widespread bipartisan approval, are being held up on the Senate calendar and not approved.”
“It was not so long ago that liberals and conservatives could easily win confirmation as long as they were well qualified, fair-minded, and had judicial temperament,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein in her floor statement. She continues:
It may even surprise some that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was confirmed by a vote of 96 to 3, and Justice Antonin Scalia was confirmed 98 to 0. That was a different time.
Today partisanship has stalled even the most uncontroversial judicial appointments. Senate Republicans allowed no nominees to be confirmed at the end of the last session and have allowed only five so far this year. In this environment even those reported out of committee by voice vote without any controversy are unable to receive a floor vote for many months if they ever receive one at all.
She provides a recent example from her home state: