According to press reports, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley suggested today at a National Press Club event that the Senate will shut down judicial confirmations in July of next year since it is a presidential election year. CQ reporter John Gramlich tweets:
.@ChuckGrassley on judicial noms: "Come July of 2016, probably they'll be cut off…It's just kind of tradition."
This is awfully rich, coming from the man who has done so much since becoming chairman to ensure that our nation's courts are not adequately staffed. Even though President Obama nominated seven qualified people to the bench back in November, Grassley has allowed only two of them to have hearings. Ranking Democrat Patrick Leahy noted last week that the committee had “not held a hearing on single judicial nomination in more than six weeks and we have several well qualified nominees waiting for a hearing.”
For instance, Eastern Pennsylvania district judge Phil Restrepo was nominated to the Third Circuit back on November 12 with the support of both of his home state senators (Democrat Bob Casey and Republican Pat Toomey), but Grassley has refused to schedule a hearing for him. Other nominees from last November being affirmatively neglected are Dale Drozd (Eastern District of California), LaShann DeArcy Hall and Ann Donnelly (Eastern District of New York), and Travis McDonough (Eastern District of Tennessee).
Once they have their hearings, there are another seven people who were nominated this year who also need consideration, most of whom were nominated back in February.
Even when he allows hearings and schedules a committee vote to advance a circuit or district court nomination to the floor – something that he has allowed only six times this year – Grassley delays the vote without providing a reason.
The backlog that the Iowa senator is deliberately creating is growing.
And now he is talking about shutting down the process next year? You could barely tell he's started the process!
Also, someone ought to remind the Senator what happened during George W. Bush's last year in office. In 2008, the Democratic-controlled Judiciary Committee held hearings for ten of Bush's judicial nominees in September, and all ten were confirmed by the full Senate that same month. In fact, half of those were confirmed just three days after their committee hearing.
Perhaps Chairman Grassley should spend more time processing circuit and district court nominations and less time laying the groundwork for prematurely shutting down the confirmation process altogether.