In his State of the Union address tonight, President Obama called for an end to the unprecedented obstruction of judicial and executive branch nominees.
Roughly ten percent of federal court seats are or will soon be vacant, including 32 seats that have been designated “judicial emergencies” by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. As a result of unprecedented obstruction by Senate Republicans, President Obama’s circuit court nominees have waited an average of 136 days for a vote from the full Senate after approval from the Judiciary Committee, in contrast to an average of 30 days for President Bush’s nominees. District court nominees have waited an average of 90 days for a vote from the full Senate under President Obama, in contrast to 22 days under President Bush.
“President Obama is right to call for an end to such irresponsible and politically-motivated obstruction of his nominees,” said Marge Baker of People For the American Way. “For too long, the GOP has gotten away with its destructive agenda of obstruction, which has left more than 1 out of 10 federal judgeships vacant and resulted in unconscionable delays for Americans seeking their day in court. Laws exist to protect all of us, and courts are where the 99% and the 1% stand as equals. But even the best of laws don’t count for much if there aren’t enough judges to enforce them. Republicans in the Senate must start doing the job the American people hired them to do. The American courts are no place for partisan politics.”