Signs since Election Day have suggested that President Obama will be making judicial nominations a higher priority during his second term. The biggest signal so far came today: Less than three hours into the 113th Congress, the White House announced that the president is renominating every single one of the 33 judicial nominees who had been left unconfirmed in the Congress that ended at noon today, most due to Republican obstruction.
In so doing, President Obama urged timely consideration for all the nominees, which would be a much-needed break from the past four years:
Today, I am re-nominating thirty-three highly qualified candidates for the federal bench, including many who could have and should have been confirmed before the Senate adjourned. Several have been awaiting a vote for more than six months, even though they all enjoy bipartisan support. I continue to be grateful for their willingness to serve and remain confident that they will apply the law with the utmost impartiality and integrity. I urge the Senate to consider and confirm these nominees without delay, so all Americans can have equal and timely access to justice.
Renominated are seven circuit court, 24 district court, and two Court of International Trade nominees. Fully half of these highly qualified jurists have already had hearings before the Judiciary Committee, and eleven of them were pending on the Senate floor and would have been confirmed already, but for Republican insistence on blocking every effort to schedule simple yes-or-no votes. These include four circuit court nominees whose nominations have been languishing on the floor since March (Patty Shwartz and Richard Taranto), April (William Kayatta), and June (Richard Taranto).
This large slate also reflects the president's commitment to having a federal bench that looks like America. Of the 33 nominees, 25 are women or people of color. Many them would bring to the bench experience as public defenders and pro bono advocates. They all bring the seal of approval of the ABA, which has closely scrutinized their records and backgrounds and found each one them qualified.
During Obama's first term, Senate Republicans pulled out the stops to prevent him from filling the federal bench with qualified mainstream judges. The White House's increased attention to judicial nominations since Election Day suggests they have no intention if allowing that to happen during the second term.