Judiciary Committee

  • January 28, 2011
    In spite of modest rules reform, the Senate failed to end the logjam and confirm any judicial nominees this week. At its hearing, the Judiciary Committee held over all business, including a scheduled vote on 11 judicial nominees, a response to Republican senators' request to delay this until all new committee members are appointed. Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy expressed his frustration and reiterated the critical need to confirm judicial nominees in an op-ed in The Hill, pointing out that there are again more than 100 vacancies on the federal bench, half of which are considered judicial emergencies. The new federal chief judge for Arizona added his state to this list, declaring a judicial emergency as a result of a heavy criminal caseload, inadequate resources, and the tragic recent death of Chief Judge John Roll. On Thursday, President Obama nominated seven more to the federal bench. To learn more about federal judicial vacancies and follow the latest developments, visit JudicialNominations.org.

    Highlights from "In the News"

    • 1/27/11 - "GOP glitch delays judicial hearing," from The Washington Times
    • 1/27/11 - "Blumenthal, Lee join Senate Judiciary Committee," from The Blog of Legal Times
  • November 5, 2010

    The results of this week's elections will affect the composition of the Senate Judiciary Committee, changing the game in the ongoing judicial vacancy crisis. Republican gains "will only intensify the [Senate] Judiciary panel's fight over judicial nominations," CQ Roll Call reports in its "Guide to the New Congress." All seven Republican members of the current Senate Judiciary Committee are expected to return and an increase in the number of Republican posts to reflect the new Senate balance is likely. While Sen. Patrick Leahy is expected to remain chairman of the committee, three of the twelve Democratic members will not be returning, reports The Blog of Legal Times.

    Even after committee approval nominees are likely to face an uphill battle. "On judicial nominations, the Democrats' much-reduced majority in the Senate puts in doubt the confirmation prospects of various nominees," writes Lawrence Hurley in The New York Times. The changed balance in the Senate makes it easier for the minority to obstruct President Obama's judicial picks, as Hurley cautions, "With the number of Senate Democrats reduced to a bare majority come January, the chances of Republican leaders being able to win the 41 votes needed to filibuster a nominee have increased considerably."

    Visit JudicialNominations.org, a website developed by ACS to track nominees, delays, and the continuing vacancy crisis, to follow the latest developments. Follow us on Facebook or bookmark JudicialNominations.org to receive regular updates.

    The Latest "In the News"

    • 11/04/10 - "Lame Duck Congress, Lots to Do, Little Time" on MSNBC
    • 11/04/10 - "Election Likely to Affect EPA Litigation, Judicial Nominations" in The New York Times
    • 11/03/10 - "Republican Gains in Senate Mean New Faces on Judiciary" in Main Justice
    • 11/03/10 - "Three Senate Races Too Close to Call" in The Wall Street Journal's "Washington Wire"
    • 11/01/10 - "Election 2010 and the Senate Judiciary Committee" in National Review
    • 11/01/10 - "Judicial Activism" in The National Law Journal
    • 11/01/10 - "What Would GOP Takeover of Congress Mean for Judiciary Committees?" in Politics Daily
    • 10/29/10 - "Rejection of Schumer's Choice Complicates Filling Bench Vacancy" in The New York Law Journal


  • May 5, 2009

    Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), pictured at right, is replacing Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) as the minority party's leader in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

    According to The Los Angeles Times

    Sessions, 62, couldn't be more different from Specter, as far as Republicans go. The latter is a moderate from Philadelphia who favors abortion rights and gun control. Sessions hails from the Bible Belt and has worked as a Sunday school teacher. He's known for his hard-line stance on immigration, having virulently opposed the massive reform bill that failed to pass the Senate two years ago.

    The AP reports: 

    McConnell's Republicans are turning to a conservative Southerner as their point man on Obama's nominee, signaling that they won't shy away from a protracted fight despite risks of being cast as obstructionist.

    Sen. Jeff Sessions' ascension as the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee comes more than 20 years after the panel rejected him for his own federal judgeship during the Reagan administration over concerns that he was hostile toward civil rights and was racially insensitive.

    And The Guardian published a piece subtitled "Jeff Sessions's New Role on the Senate Judiciary Committee Brings His Hostility to Civil Rights Laws to Light," offering this: