Yesterday, Senate Republicans – who have allowed only 11 judicial confirmation votes the entire year – at long last agreed to schedule a vote for consensus Third Circuit nominee L. Felipe Restrepo. The agreement came five months after he cleared the Judiciary Committee unanimously. As if that needless wait weren’t already evidence of partisan obstruction, Republicans agreed to the vote only if it could be delayed by more than another month, until January 11.
And today, Roll Call is reporting on GOP plans to ramp up partisanship in judicial nominations even more:
Yet there is a decent chance Congress will go home for the year without [confirming anyone]. That would be a signal the process of confirming judges, already at its slowest pace in more than half a century, is grinding to a halt earlier than ever in the life cycle of a modern two-term president.
It remains likelier that, before adjourning next week, the majority Republicans will agree to create a handful of new judges — but perhaps only [Tennessee nominee Waverly Crenshaw] and four more who would also join U.S. District Courts in states represented by two GOP senators.
Currently, there are 13 circuit and district judicial nominees who have been waiting for a confirmation vote, some since as long ago as July. When Majority Leader Mitch McConnell finally schedules a vote on such a nominee, it has usually been in the order that they came out of the Judiciary Committee (and, when nominees advance on the same day, the order that they are listed on the Senate Executive Calendar). Below is the list of nominees, in order, including the date they were approved by the Judiciary Committee and became eligible for a confirmation vote. All but Restrepo would serve on district courts. The list is color coded by partisanship of home state senators (with Restrepo the only one represented by both a Republican and a Democrat).
- L. Felipe Restrepo (PA, Third Circuit) – July 9
- Waverly Crenshaw (TN) – July 9
- Wilhelmina “Mimi” Wright (MN) – September 17
- John Vazquez (NJ) – September 17
- Paula Xinis (MD) – September 17
- Brian Martinotti (NJ) – October 29
- Robert Rossiter (NE) – October 29
- Edward Stanton (TN) – October 29
- Rebecca Goodgame Ebinger (IA) – November 5
- Leonard Strand (IA) – November 5
- Julien Neals (NJ) – November 5
- Gary Brown (NY) – November 5
- Mark Young (CA) – November 5
Under the scheme being floated by Senate Republicans, “their” nominees would skip over four district court nominees who come from states with Democratic senators, even though the blue-state nominees have been waiting longer for a vote. Individuals and businesses in Minnesota, New Jersey, and Maryland would be punished by Mitch McConnell for electing the “wrong” senators, yet another escalation by the GOP in their politicization of the judicial confirmation process.
Every nominee waiting for a vote has been fully vetted by the Judiciary Committee and advanced without opposition to the full Senate. Each should have a vote before senators go home. It is bad enough that Restrepo has been needlessly put off to January. Gaming the list to disfavor certain nominees based on which party their state’s senators belong to would add insult to injury.