Yesterday, Senate Republicans finally stopped blocking a confirmation vote for Federal Circuit Court nominee Richard Taranto. It was March 29 of last year that he was first cleared by the Judiciary Committee, but Republicans refused to allow a fair yes-or-no vote. This year, President Obama renominated him and he was finally confirmed … unanimously.
Yes, Senate Republicans spent nearly a year blocking a nominee who they supported. This comes a week after the party again filibustered the highly qualified Caitlin Halligan for the critically important and understaffed DC Circuit court, offering clearly trumped up rationales that stark contradiction to their own statements when George W. Bush was the one populating the courts. Caitlin Halligan was nominated way back in 2010.
So it's no wonder that President Obama is raising the issue of this abusive treatment of his nominees with members of the Senate. Yesterday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked what the president plans to discuss during his visits with Senate Democrats and Republicans this week. Carney laid out the priority issues, including:
the need to do something about the pace of nominations being confirmed and considered in the Senate — judicial nominations, in particular …
[The president] will also, I'm sure, talk about the need to do something about the problems that we've been seeing in the Senate with Republicans when it comes to confirming the President's judicial nominations.
When it takes nearly a year to confirm an unopposed circuit nominee like Richard Taranto, and when an undoubtedly qualified nominee like Caitlin Halligan isn't even allowed a vote, there is something seriously wrong. And it isn't just the victimized nominees who suffer: It's the American people who suffer when courts are blocked from operating at peak efficiency and when those who would otherwise make excellent judges are dissuaded from putting themselves up for nomination by a destructive and needlessly drawn-out confirmation process.