Ohio Groups Meet with White House to Discuss Deepening Crisis in the Courts, Judicial Nominations

Cleveland, Ohio – Representatives from over a dozen Ohio social justice, legal and community action organizations from every part of the state participated in a conference call with White House staff today to discuss growing concern about the ongoing crisis in the federal courts. Organized by the Ohio Coalition for Constitutional Values and led by People For the American Way and the National Council of Jewish Women, participants in the call discussed the unprecedented obstruction that has kept critical seats on courts across the country vacant. It also discussed the critical importance of Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown to efforts to get the American judiciary fully functioning once more.

As 2012 begins, the Senate will return to Washington with over 100 federal judicial vacancies and 30 judicial emergencies. By forcing those courtrooms to sit empty, obstructionists are making it increasingly difficult for individuals and businesses to get their fair day in court. This vacancy crisis is the result of three years of systematic obstruction led by a small group of senators, preventing even non-controversial nominees from being confirmed at a reasonable pace. Participants on the call received an update from the White House about the status of judicial nominations, provided a brief update of their work in Ohio and discussed what can be done to accelerate the confirmation process and ensure that judicial vacancies are promptly filled.

Participants in today’s call included the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies, the Ohio Coalition on Black Civic Participation, Asian Services in Action, HOLA, Preterm, Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Toledo Fair Housing Center, Ohio Unity Coalition, Ohio Action Circle, Center for Community Change, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Planned Parenthood of Ohio, and the National Fair Housing Alliance. The call included groups and individuals based in cities throughout the state, including Cleveland, Columbus, Youngstown, Canton and Toledo.

Shaun Tucker, local representative for People For the American Way , said, “Americans depend upon a fair and functioning judiciary, and it’s the Senate’s duty to make sure judicial nominees are confirmed quickly and responsibly. The votes of Sens. Brown and Portman are critical in the effort to put aside partisanship and confirm the White House’s fair and qualified nominees for courts not only in Ohio but throughout the United States. This is an issue that many Ohioans care deeply about, and I hope that our senators will be allies in the effort to ease the crisis in the courts.”

Marie Smith of the National Council of Jewish Women added, “It’s encouraging to know that White House and a diverse coalition of Ohioans are dedicated to ending the judicial nominations crisis. I hope that Sens. Brown and Portman will join us in putting aside partisan differences and acting in the best interests of the courts and the American people.”

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