Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee was scheduled to vote on the nomination of Jane Kelly to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Nonetheless, even though Kelly is a highly qualified, uncontroversial nominee and her confirmation hearing on February 27 was a virtual love fest, no vote took place.
Why not? Well, since the start of the Obama Administration, with only five exceptions,* Republicans on the Judiciary Committee have routinely invoked a procedural rule allowing them to insist that a scheduled vote on a nominee be held over – postponed until the Committee’s next meeting or until the following week, whichever is later. They invoked that rule again today, putting off a vote on Jane Kelly, another instance of a mindless abuse of a rule intended to provide more time when more time is actually needed, not a rule intended to put off votes on uncontroversial nominees purely for the sake of delay, which is how Republicans have been using it. The abuse of this rule is just one more example of the unprecedented obstruction to which Republicans have subjected President Obama’s judicial nominees for the past four years.
Jane Kelly hails from Iowa, the home state of Senator Charles Grassley, Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee. Apparently, however, not even senatorial courtesy to a well-qualified, uncontroversial, home state nominee could trump the relentless obstruction of the President’s judicial nominees. And so the damage to our Nation’s judiciary continues.
*Thanks to my colleagues at People For the American Way for the statistics.