A.G. Holder to Senate: Let’s Get Moving on Judicial Appointments

Attorney General Eric Holder penned an op-ed in yesterday’s Washington Post, urging the Senate to avoid stalling on votes for nominees to the federal bench.  He recounts the story of a 6th Circuit Court of Appeals nominee whose Senate vote was held up for nearly 300 days despite her having the support of both home-state senators and the Senate Juciciary Committee.  When the vote finally did take place, the nomination breezed through.

Further, according to Holder:

Today, 23 judicial nominees — honest and qualified men and women eager to serve the cause of justice — are enduring long delays while awaiting up-or-down votes, even though 16 of them received unanimous bipartisan approval in the Judiciary Committee. The confirmation process is so twisted in knots that we are losing ground — there are more vacancies today than when President Obama took office. The men and women whose confirmations have been delayed have received high marks from the nonpartisan American Bar Association, have the support of their home-state senators (including Republicans), and have received little or no opposition in committee.

Last year, 259,000 civil cases and 75,000 criminal cases were filed in the federal courts, enough to tax the abilities of the judiciary even when it is fully staffed. But today there are 103 judicial vacancies — nearly one in eight seats on the bench. Men and women who need their day in court must stand in longer and longer lines.

The problem is about to get worse. Because of projected retirements and other demographic changes, the number of annual new vacancies in the next decade will be 33 percent greater than in the past three decades. If the historic pace of Senate confirmations continues, one third of the federal judiciary will be vacant by 2020. If we stay on the pace that the Senate has set in the past two years — the slowest pace of confirmations in history — fully half the federal judiciary will be vacant by 2020.

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