The Senate will likely leave town next Thursday until after the election. Republicans should allow a vote on all of the 17 district court nominations that have been languishing needlessly, often for months.
The nominees are anything but controversial; in fact, all but two were approved by the Judiciary Committee with overwhelming bipartisan support. Yet this is par for the course for the GOP war against all things Obama, when even consensus nominees with strong Republican support are forced to wait on average three times longer for a floor vote than was the case for George W. Bush’s nominees at this point in his presidency.
During the last presidential election year, we saw nothing even closely resembling the current level of obstruction. In September 2008, the Senate confirmed ten of President Bush’s district court nominees. All ten were approved by the Judiciary Committee on September 25 and received a floor vote just one day later. They were all voted on as a package and confirmed by unanimous consent.
In stark contrast, only one district court confirmation has been allowed so far this month. All of the current nominees have been waiting months for a vote (most for more than two months, and some since April!). They have been delayed only because Senate Republicans are abusing their right under Senate rules to prevent the majority from scheduling even a simple, unopposed confirmation vote without their consent. They offer no explanations, only a grim determination to obstruct.
Next week, Republicans can and should allow the Senate to vote on the pending district court nominees. Given the model of 2008, they have no excuse not to act.