Progress in moving judicial nominations is always welcome. But small increments of progress also serve to shine a light on the greater obstruction that is going on. That happened earlier this week when the Senate held a confirmation vote on one long-waiting nominee, but did nothing on eight additional nominees who were long ago fully vetted and advanced without opposition by the Judiciary Committee.
And it’s happening Wednesday morning, as the Committee holds a hearing for four district court nominees. It’s good that Chairman Chuck Grassley is holding a hearing for two nominees from Iowa and one apiece from New York and California. But it begs several questions. For instance, since there are ten other nominees waiting for their opportunity to appear before the committee, why are there only four nominees at today’s hearing, rather than five or six? And why has Grassley never held more than one hearing per month? No wonder there is such a backlog of nominees at the committee stage, most of whom were nominated back in July or earlier.
In fact, all of them were nominated before one of the nominees up today, Rebecca Goodgame Ebinger, who Grassley allowed to leapfrog over all the others since he recommended her to the White House to serve in Iowa’s Southern District. President Obama nominated Ebinger last month. So why no hearing for Mary Barzee Flores of Florida, who was nominated way back in February on the recommendation of Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Marco Rubio? Why no hearing for any of the four nominees for district courts in Pennsylvania, who were nominated in July upon the joint recommendation of Democrat Bob Casey and Republican Pat Toomey?
You shouldn’t have to have been hand-picked by Chuck Grassley to deserve a timely committee hearing. As chairman, Chuck Grassley should be treating all nominees fairly. If he wants to be taken seriously in his claims that he is conducting himself responsibly as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, he should ensure that each of the remaining ten nominees has a hearing before Thanksgiving.