Mitch McConnel

PFAW Statement on Senate Confirmation of Luis Restrepo

Today, more than a year after being nominated by President Obama, Judge Luis Restrepo was confirmed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Today’s vote followed months of needless delays by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, assisted by Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley.

“Americans of every stripe should be glad that Judge Restrepo was confirmed today. He will be a true asset to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. But Senate Republicans should be embarrassed about how they’ve played politics with the courts for months on end,” said People For the American Way Executive Vice President Marge Baker. “Judge Restrepo was nominated with bipartisan support from his home state senators, but at every turn Republicans delayed and dragged their feet, saying one thing and doing another. Not a single senator raised any concerns about Judge Restrepo’s fitness for the bench—this was anti-Obama politics plain and simple. If Americans need another example of who’s causing gridlock in Washington, the expanse of time that it took us to get to this vote is a perfect example.”

Upon today’s vote, Restrepo becomes the second Latino judge ever to serve on the Third Circuit and the first from Pennsylvania.

Today’s vote comes during an period of historic obstruction of judicial nominees in the Senate. Since Mitch McConnell became majority leader in January 2014, the number of current circuit and district court vacancies has climbed from 40 to 71 today, a nearly 80% increase. Despite Restrepo’s confirmation, the current Senate’s confirmation rate remains far behind that of Democrats who controlled the body during the last two years of President Bush’s term eight years ago.

“During the long wait for Judge Restrepo’s confirmation, yet another vacancy has opened up on the Third Circuit,” said Baker. “If Republicans decide to start caring about the ordinary people they purport to represent, moving expeditiously to fill that vacancy, among others, would be a reasonable place to start.”


LISTEN: Mitch McConnell’s Full Remarks at the Koch Brothers Mega-Donors Summit

Listen to Mitch McConnell tell the Koch bros everything they want to hear.

Chris McDaniel Says Mitch McConnell Sold His Soul For Power, Future Of America At Stake

On yesterday’s edition of “Sandy Rios In The Morning,” Mississippi state senator Chris McDaniel accused Sens. Mitch McConnell and Thad Cochran of selling their soul for power. McDaniel, who recently demanded the state party declare him the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate even though he lost a runoff election to Cochran, agreed with Rios that people may soon stop voting and said the future of the country is at stake in his challenge to the Mississippi election results.

“They need to know that their elections can be trusted, otherwise people will stop voting,” Rios said. “We will completely break down if we can’t sort this out.”

McDaniel agreed: “That’s exactly right. There has to be repercussions.”

McDaniel then responded to an article about how Tea Party groups are less than thrilled with McConnell’s campaign, with one activist citing his role in supporting Cochran’s re-election.

“What we’re seeing are people like McConnell and people like Cochran and others that will sell their very souls for a little extra power or a little extra money,” McDaniel said. “That’s something we cannot allow to happen. If conservatives let this go, we’re going to lose this country.”

Demise of Another GOP Talking Point on Judicial Nominations

The GOP claim that confirmation times for Obama's judicial nominees should be compared to Bush's second term falls apart.

PFAW Condemns Latest GOP Excuse to Block Judicial Nominations

Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell announced Wednesday that he will block the confirmations of federal circuit court nominees from now until after the November elections, citing what he claims is a Senate tradition sometimes called the “Thurmond Rule.” Ten percent of federal judgeships are vacant, creating caseload backlogs so large that 30 of those seats are considered “judicial emergencies.”

“Senate Republicans have once again put politics ahead of the needs of the American people,” said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way. “Blocking the president’s well-qualified nominees seriously hampers the ability of the federal courts to serve Americans who seek justice in a court of law.

“Acting on the president’s nominations is the Senate’s responsibility to the American people. Unfortunately, politics is the GOP’s top priority, and it’s clear that Senator McConnell would prefer to keep the judiciary dangerously understaffed in hopes of someday filling those seats with a Republican president’s nominees. Because obstruction has been their strategy since losing the White House, most of the nominees caught in their trap would ordinarily have been confirmed long ago. Thanks to the GOP’s decision to shirk its responsibility by playing games, the backlog of nominees continues to grow and the American people are denied a fully functioning justice system.

“The President’s nominees awaiting confirmation are well qualified and will serve fairly and impartially. Almost all received strong bipartisan support from the Senate Judiciary Committee. There is absolutely no legitimate reason to block these confirmations, and the GOP should be ashamed to cite an indefensible tradition to justify this act.”


Republican Senators Block Fair Pay

In response to the failed cloture vote on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2007, People For the American Way president Kathryn Kolbert said, "Republican Senators made it painfully clear tonight that they take their marching orders from business lobbyists, not the American people. Congress had a rare opportunity in the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to reverse the destructive Supreme Court ruling in Ledbetter vs. Goodyear. The House of Representatives delivered for workers, but Senate Republicans stopped it in its tracks."

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