PFAW Urges Senate to Turn Attention to Long-Vacant Appeals Court Seats

WASHINGTON – People For the American Way today urged the Senate to turn its attention to clearing the backlog of federal circuit court nominees created by Republican obstruction in the last Congress.

Today the Senate Judiciary Committee easily reapproved three highly-regarded circuit court nominees who were blocked from Senate votes last year despite strong bipartisan support. These nominees – First Circuit nominee William Kayatta of Maine, Tenth Circuit nominee Robert Bacharach of Oklahoma, and Federal Circuit nominee Richard Taranto – have all waited at least eight months for Senate floor vote since their first committee approvals.

Judiciary Committee ranking member Charles Grassley used his prerogative to hold back for a week two additional circuit court nominees who had previously been approved by the committee. Patty Shwartz of New Jersey has been waiting nearly a year for a vote from the full Senate. Caitlin Halligan, who was first nominated by the president in 2010 and first approved by the committee in 2011, would fill one of three vacancies on the highly influential Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Both will get new committee votes next week.

As the five circuit court nominees once more make their way through the confirmation process, President Obama continues to make new nominations, naming four new circuit court nominees this during the past week, including two today.

Marge Baker, Executive Vice President of People For the American Way, released the following statement:

“The five circuit court nominees before the committee today were all approved by the committee last year and all have been waiting at least eight months for a simple up-or-down vote from the Senate. It’s bad enough that Senate Republicans forced all five to go through the confirmation process again this year rather than allowing them a timely confirmation vote. But it would add insult to injury if they are forced to languish on the Senate floor again. Surely, after all the time that these five highly qualified nominees have already spent waiting for a vote after committee approval, the Senate does not need more time to consider their qualifications.

“The Senate should quickly hold votes on these long-delayed nominees in order to fill the vacancies on these important courts. “

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