Obstruction

Florida Nominee to Test How Far GOP Will Take Obstruction

As Paul wrote earlier today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has schedule a vote on Monday to break the GOP filibuster of Adalberto Jordán, a Florida judge nominated to fill a judicial emergency on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. If confirmed, Jordan would be the first Cuban American judge on the 11th Circuit, which oversees Florida, the home of the United States’ largest Cuban American population.

What’s most notable about this vote is that it’s happening at all.

Traditionally, nominees like Jordán – who has the support of both his home-state senators, a Republican and a Democrat, and who was approved unanimously by the Judiciary Committee – would be swiftly confirmed, not be filibustered by the minority party.

But the Senate GOP hasn’t been so fond of Senate tradition, or efficient management, when it comes to confirming President Obama’s nominees. Instead, the GOP is filibustering Jordán and sixteen other nominees, the vast majority of whom have broad bipartisan support.

Below is an updated chart comparing how long each nominee on the Senate calendar has been waiting for an up-or-down vote, compared to the average wait time for Bush’s nominees at this point in his presidency.

The difference is striking:

The Senate GOP has been doing everything it can to gum up the works of the Senate – even when it means causing a four month delay for a widely-admired, bipartisan, historic nominee for a seat that has been designated a “judicial emergency.”

The pressure is now on Sen. Marco Rubio, a new favorite in the GOP, to convince his fellow Republican senators to put aside politics and confirm Jordán.
 

PFAW

Why is the Senate GOP Filibustering the First Cuban American Nominee to the Eleventh Circuit Court, Florida’s Adalberto José Jordán?

To: Interested Parties

From: Marge Baker, People For the American Way

Date: February 10, 2012

Re: Why is the Senate GOP Filibustering the First Cuban American Nominee to the Eleventh Circuit Court, Florida’s Adalberto José Jordán?

Florida District Court Judge Adalberto José Jordán has been waiting four months for the U.S. Senate to approve his nomination to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. On Monday, the Senate will hold a vote to break the Republican filibuster of Jordán’s nomination, a step that is traditionally taken only when the minority party has significant objections to the nominee’s qualifications.

So why is the GOP filibustering Jordán?

They have stated no reason, which leads to the natural conclusion that stalling Jordán’s nomination is just part of their larger effort to create gridlock in Washington. In the process, they have kept a highly-qualified jurist – one who is wholeheartedly supported by both Florida senators, including GOP Sen. Marco Rubio – from becoming the Eleventh Circuit’s first Cuban American judge and filling an urgent vacancy in the federal courts.

In October, Sen. Rubio praised Jordán to the Judiciary Committee, saying, "I think his experience and his resume will speak for itself. ... As a community, we're very proud of Judge Jordán's nomination and we look forward to his appointment."

Jordán immigrated from Cuba when he was six and is the quintessential American success story. After graduating from the University of Miami Law School, Jordán clerked for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and became a federal prosecutor. Since 1999, he has served ably as a federal district court judge in Miami, where he has presided over nearly 200 trials on a wide range of civil and criminal matters.

He received the highest possible rating from the American Bar Association and the Judiciary Committee members who reviewed his record agreed, voting unanimously to advance his nomination.

If confirmed, Jordán would become the first Cuban American to sit on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Florida, Georgia and Alabama. What’s more, the Eleventh Circuit desperately needs this vacancy filled, so much so that the Administrative Office of the United States Court has formally declared it a judicial emergency. In other words, there are so many cases and so few judges that Floridians, Georgians and Alabamans are facing unnecessary delays as they seek their day in court.

Jordán’s nomination has been languishing on the Senate floor since October 13. That was four months ago. Republicans have absolutely no excuse for this latest obstruction and should allow a simple up-or-down vote on his nomination, as well as the 17 others still awaiting votes.

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End the Filibuster of Judge Jordán

With Republican obstruction of qualified consensus judicial nominees showing no sign of abating, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has filed cloture on the nomination of Adalberto José Jordán to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. The vote to break the Republican filibuster is scheduled for Monday at 5:30.

Jordán is one of the 18 nominees stuck pending on the Senate floor because Republicans refuse to allow a yes-or-no vote to be scheduled. He received the highest possible rating from the American Bar Association, with a unanimous panel finding him well qualified. Judiciary Committee members who looked over his record agreed, voting unanimously to advance his nomination.

Senator Marco Rubio – Jordán's home state senator and a fellow Cuban American – strongly supports the nomination. As he told the committee, "I think his experience and his resume will speak for itself. ... As a community, we're very proud of Judge Jordán's nomination and we look forward to his appointment."

Jordán immigrated from Cuba when he was six and is the quintessential American success story. Since 1999, he has served ably as a federal district court judge in Miami, where he has presided over nearly 200 trials on a wide range of civil and criminal matters.

The Circuit that he would join desperately needs this vacancy filled, so much so that the Administrative Office of the United States Court has formally declared it a judicial emergency. In other words, there are so many cases and so few judges that Americans are not able to get their day in court.

This nomination has been languishing on the Senate floor since October 13. That was four months ago. Republicans have absolutely no excuse for this latest obstruction. Hats off to Sen. Reid for "calling the question" on this critical nomination. Next we need to turn our attention to the other 17 nominees on the Senate's calendar and the other nominees who will be reported by the Senate Judiciary Committee despite the Republicans' efforts to slow walk nominations in Committee as well.

PFAW

The Mechanism of Obstruction Continues

Before Senate Republicans graciously allowed a vote this afternoon on one of the 19 long-pending judicial nominations – just one, mind you – they did something this morning, that, unfortunately has become all too routine in their relentless efforts to slow-walk judicial nominations: They needlessly delayed committee votes on four additional highly qualified nominees. Republicans won't even let them advance to the floor to languish there, but are delaying them in committee for no reason.

As they have done for all but five of President Obama's judicial nominees, committee Republicans this morning exercised their option to "hold over" (i.e., delay) votes on judicial nominees. The routine use of this hold, without explanation, without regard to actual questions about the nominee, and almost without exception, is unprecedented. And while the delay, likely to be one week, is not by itself enormous, it has become a predictable component of the overall mechanism of obstruction that Senate Republicans have created to keep our nation's courtrooms from functioning effectively for the American people.

Three of the four vacant seats are judicial emergencies, and the three nominees from states with Republican senators have those senators' strong support.

As PFAW has written before:

No matter who the nominee is, no matter how qualified, no matter if confirmation is needed to address a judicial emergency, all the nominees [who are held over in committee] have something in common: They were nominated by a Democratic president, and that is all the reason Republicans need to obstruct the process and sabotage the judicial branch of the United States government.

So the fact that the bottleneck at the Senate floor didn't get worse today is hardly cause to celebrate.

PFAW

Senate Confirms California Judicial Nominee, GOP Continues to Stall 18

The Senate confirmed U.S. District Court nominee Cathy Ann Bencivengo

The Senate today confirmed the nomination of Judge Cathy Ann Bencivengo to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, based in San Diego. The 90-6 vote highlighted the needlessness of the obstruction that caused Bencivengo to wait 126 days for consideration by the Senate after her unanimous approval by the Judiciary Committee.

Bencivengo will fill one of a dozen vacant federal court seats in California, and one of six that have been designated “judicial emergencies” by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Bencivengo, who is currently a Magistrate Judge, received the highest rating from the American Bar Association and a glowing recommendation from Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

“The Senate’s confirmation of Judge Bencivengo brings a talented jurist to the federal bench, and is a step toward relieving the enormous caseload burden that has caused Southern Californians to face long delays as they seek their day in court,” said People For the American Way’s Marge Baker. “The judicial crisis in California, unfortunately, is not unique. The Senate GOP should immediately allow votes on the other eighteen highly-qualified nominees still on the calendar. Our Justice system is too important to be a pawn in partisan politics.”

Bencivengo’s confirmation leaves eighteen judicial nominees on the Senate’s calendar. The overwhelming majority have strong bipartisan support. Thirteen are women or people of color.

President Obama’s district court nominees have waited an average of 90 days after committee approval for a vote from the full Senate, in contrast to a mere 23 days for George W. Bush’s district court nominees at this point in his presidency.

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PFAW Praises President's Call for End to Nominations Obstruction

In his State of the Union address tonight, President Obama called for an end to the unprecedented obstruction of judicial and executive branch nominees.

PFAW Applauds President for Appointing Cordray; Recess Appointment a Necessary and Proper Response to GOP Obstruction

In a move to ensure the functioning of an important consumer protection agency in the face of escalating GOP obstructionism, the White House announced that President Obama will install Richard Cordray as the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in a recess appointment today.

Marge Baker of People For the American Way issued the following statement:

Senate GOP Again Moves Goalposts on Judicial Nominees, Leaves 21 Unconfirmed at End of Session

The Senate ended its 2011 session on Saturday, leaving 21 judicial nominees on its calendar. All but two of the abandoned nominees were supported by a bipartisan majority of the Judiciary Committee. Under none of the previous four presidents has the Senate left noncontroversial nominees without a vote at the end of a session.

Before Going Home for the Holidays, Senate Should Confirm Pending Judicial Nominees

Before Going Home for the Holidays, Senate Should Confirm Pending Judicial Nominees

Senate GOP Plays Games with Halligan Nomination, Sets Dangerous Precedent

In a move that could have far-reaching implications for the ability of the president and the Senate to fill the federal courts, the Senate GOP today succeeded in blocking a vote on the nomination of Caitlin Halligan to serve on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, denying cloture on the nomination with a nearly party-line 54-45 vote.
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