When the Senate returns to Washington next week, it will have been more than seven months since Republicans last allowed a confirmation vote for any circuit court nominee. Left in the lurch were four highly qualified, long-pending circuit court nominees: Patty Shwartz (Third Circuit, waiting for a vote since March), Richard Taranto (Federal Circuit, also waiting since March), William Kayatta (First Circuit, waiting since April), and Robert Bacharach (Tenth Circuit, waiting since June). Predictably, in the more than half a year that Republicans have actively prevented even one circuit court seat from being filled, nine new circuit court vacancies have been announced.
Two new vacancies have opened up on the Federal Circuit (where Richard Taranto could have been serving for ten months already). Similarly, the Tenth Circuit (where Robert Bacharach would be serving now if Republicans hadn't filibustered him) has seen two new vacancies. Filling out the list are one vacancy apiece on the Fifth, Eighth, Ninth, Eleventh, and DC Circuits.
Senate Republicans should allow Democrats to hold a yes-or-no confirmation vote on the four long-pending circuit court nominees as soon as they are again cleared by the Judiciary Committee. They've had their hearings, and they all could (and should) have been voted on many months ago. In addition, circuit court nominees Jill Pryor (Eleventh Circuit) and Caitlin Halligan and Sri Srinivasan (both DC Circuit) should have their nominations processed and voted on expeditiously. All delay can accomplish is further erosion of justice on our nation's critically important appellate courts.