January 16, 2013

Sen. Leahy Lays Out Judiciary Committee Agenda, Urges Judicial Confirmations

by Amanda Simon

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) laid out his agenda for the committee today. In his remarks, the chairman pointed to several issues that ACS cares deeply about including immigration reform, criminal justice reform and renewing the Violence Against Women Act. Thankfully, Sen. Leahy also pledged to fill judicial vacancies around the country and urged senators to stop blocking nominees.

Sen. Leahy’s remarks today only further underline the crisis our justice system is facing. Currently, there are 82 federal judicial vacancies with 25 of those vacancies considered judicial emergencies. Judicial vacancies have a real and human cost. As these vacancies linger, medical bills pile up, memories fade, witnesses die, legal fees compound and the cost of doing business goes up.

The current reality is this: qualified judicial nominations with bipartisan support that would have been confirmed in days or weeks in the past now sit idly on the Senate’s Executive Calendar for months because of Republican refusal to consent to debate and vote on nominations. Qualified nominees are being stalled for no reason beyond political posturing.

President Obama has already signaled that filling benches across the country is a priority. As soon as the congressional session begun this year, the administration renominated the 33 candidates that the Senate left high and dry without votes last year.

Sen. Leahy’s comments are very much appreciated and we hope it will lead to real action to ensure these vacancies are filled. We can no longer afford to have our courts held hostage by obstructionists.

It’s time for the Senate Judiciary Committee to follow the president’s lead and ensure these nominees are processed quickly.