The incoming White House counsel has signaled that the Obama administration will continue to make “filling empty judge seats” a “top priority,” writes Jennifer Bendery for The Huffington Post.
Citing a speech from the current White House Counsel Robert F. Bauer (pictured) given earlier this year at an ACS event on “Judicial Nominations in 2011,” Bendery described Bauer’s rhetoric as being “deliberately over the top,” to send a sharp message that the administration “regards vacancies on the court as a threat to its agenda.”
Bauer’s comments sounded, at the time, more earnest and urgent than over-the-top. He noted at the February event that too many of the president’s judicial nominations have been “left to languish on the floor … without a vote.” He said that the ongoing delays and obstruction of the president’s judicial selections were indeed a serious matter.
“Chief Justice Rehnquist quite rightly pointed to the grave loss in the quality of justice when we don’t have enough judges for the cases to be decided. And it is a loss in the quality of justice when this very proposition – the proposition that we urgently need judges to have effective, responsive justice – draws a limited or intermittently attentive audience,” Bauer said.
Bauer’s speech preceded a panel discussion focusing on the rising vacancies on the federal bench, and the unprecedented obstruction of the president’s judicial nominations. A transcript of Bauer’s comments is available here. Video of his speech and the panel discussion are available here.
Bauer will leave his position later this month, and will be replaced by Kathryn Ruemmler. In a statement to The Huffington Post, Ruemmler said, “Given the urgency of the judicial vacancy crisis, the president believes we must all move swiftly to address the situation.”
There are currently 91 vacancies on the federal bench, with 36 of them declared “judicial emergencies,” by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts. See JudicialNominations.org for updates and more information about the crisis facing the federal courts.