Senate Republicans on the Judiciary Committee today blocked votes on eight judicial nominees, including five renominated by the White House after they failed to receive a vote on the Senate floor before the August recess. Republicans used a procedural rule to delay a committee vote by one week, even though some of the nominees have been pending for over a year.
"There's no way to view these delays other than as pure obstruction," said Marge Baker of People For the American Way. "Republicans have had ample time to review the records of these nominees and make up their minds about them—indeed on the five who were just renominated, they've already cast their votes. The GOP is throwing sand into the gears of government to score political points. This is more evidence that Republicans would rather try to trip up the President than participate in the business of governing."
Obstruction in the Judiciary Committee is only part of the Republican campaign against President Obama's judicial nominees. Republican leaders are currently blocking votes on 16 nominees pending on the Senate floor, including 14 who passed out of committee without a single vote of opposition, and 8 who are nominated to fill vacancies designated as "Judicial Emergencies." Senator McConnell explains the delay by claiming that the White House hasn't nominated judges quickly enough.
"That doesn't pass the smell test," said Baker. "Senator McConnell seems to be saying that there should be a ratio of blocked judges to nominated judges before he's willing to take a vote. That's absurd. There's no rule saying that there has to be a quota for backlogged nominees waiting before any one is allowed to move forward. President Obama has nominated eminently qualified jurists, and the Senate should approve them. The GOP is shirking its responsibility to ensure a well-functioning government."
Continued Baker, "I'm glad to see that the President made a point of speaking about the obstruction of judicial nominees in his remarks to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus last night. A functioning legal system makes a difference to ordinary Americans. The Republicans have a responsibility to help ensure that we have one."