To: Interested Parties
From: Marge Baker, People For the American Way
Re: Judicial Nominees and the State of the Union
Date: January 25, 2011
While it’s not clear exactly which Supreme Court Justices will attend President Obama’s State of the Union address tonight, it is clear that at least some of the Court’s conservative members agree with the President on one pressing issue: the need to hasten the confirmation of judges to the federal bench.
President Obama today renominated 42 judicial nominees whose confirmations were blocked by Senate Republicans last year.
Pundits will spend months discussing and dissecting the results of our most recent elections. Whether the root cause of the results is the country’s economic situation, the flood of outside money or something else, one thing is clear: Americans are angry at gridlock and partisanship in Washington. They don’t want political squabbles and they don’t want more talking points: they want a government that works.
And a well functioning judicial branch is central to having such a government.
The Senate left for recess last night without confirming a single one of the 23 pending federal judicial nominees. 21 of these nominees have been waiting over five months for Senate votes, some for nearly a year. Seventeen were approved by the Judiciary Committee without opposition. Eleven have been nominated to fill vacancies designated “judicial emergencies.”
Marge Baker, Executive Vice President of People For the American Way, issued the following statement:
Republican Senators are looking to show that they have any interest in responsible governance before November’s election, this is the last week for them to show it.
Currently, 23 of President Obama’s judicial nominees are waiting for a vote by the full Senate. Nineteen of those nominations have been pending for more than five months, some for nearly a year. Eleven of those nominations are to fill vacancies designated “judicial emergencies.”
This afternoon, Sen. Patrick Leahy attempted to secure a floor vote on the nomination of Jane Branstetter Stranch of Tennessee to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked the vote, claiming that the GOP needed more time to consider her nomination.
President Obama nominated Stranch on August 6, 2009, with the support of both her home state senators. The Judiciary Committee approved her nomination with bipartisan support in November. She has been waiting for a confirmation vote since.
Today, People For the American Way called on the U.S. Senate to confirm President Obama's nominee to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, Joseph Greenaway.
"Judge Greenaway is a competent, qualified, fair-minded nominee who should be confirmed for this position as soon as possible," said Marge Baker, Executive Vice President at People For the American Way. "He was approved unanimously by the Judiciary Committee. There's absolutely no reason to delay his confirmation to this post."