by Nicole Flatow
The Washington Post editorial board called it an “insidious use of judicial nominees as political pawns.” The Boston Globe dubbed it “dreary, familiar business.” And The Atlantic’s Andrew Cohen laments that it is “simple and maddening.”
The Senate’s move yesterday to block an up-or-down vote on U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit nominee Caitlin Halligan has brought new attention to some senators’ mounting obstruction of judicial nominees.
Even after combing Halligan’s record for “evidence of dangerous radicalism” and finding nothing, Republican senators denounced her confirmation as “inconceivable,” The Boston Globe asserts in an editorial. Some called her an anti-gun extremist for representing the state of New York as solicitor general in cases against gun manufacturers. Others claimed the case load in the D.C. Circuit Court is not high enough to merit filling the ninth of 11 seats.
The reality, Cohen writes, is that senators are holding up these nominations out of “partisan spite,” with the American people as the casualties.
“Halligan will move on after this ordeal,” he writes. “She's still a superstar. It's just the rest of us, who are not, who are left to suffer with this Senate.”
Even White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler penned a column in The Huffington Post lamenting the move as the latest devastating blow to the judicial system:
There is a vacancy crisis in our courts, and it could be cut by more than a quarter if the Senate would simply confirm the nominees who already have been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. In addition to Ms. Halligan, 20 nominees have been approved by the Judiciary Committee after thorough consideration, but have been waiting -- many for months -- to be confirmed.
… As Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts said, there is "an urgent need for the political branches to find a long-term solution to this recurring problem," which has "created acute difficulties for some judicial districts" and left some sitting judges "burdened with extraordinary caseloads."
It is time for the Senate to act responsibly and to meet this need.
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