Washington, DC – People For the American Way commended President Obama for putting forward seven nominees for seats on federal district courts today, and urged the Senate to promptly consider the 19 nominees currently awaiting floor votes.
“By nominating this slate of highly qualified nominees just one week after his reelection, the president has signaled that the federal courts will be a priority in his second term,” said Marge Baker, Executive Vice President of People For the American Way. “Now it’s the Senate’s turn to show that they’re serious about ending the vacancy crisis in the courts. They can start by voting on the 19 judicial nominees awaiting votes in the lame duck session.”
The Senate could easily confirm all 19 nominees awaiting Senate votes before the end of the lame duck session. In December 2010, the Senate confirmed 19 judges in less than a week. In November 2002, the Senate confirmed 20 judges in less than a week, including 18 on a single day.
During President Obama’s first term, Senate Republicans abused the filibuster to stall votes on even uncontroversial judicial nominees, contributing to a record vacancy crisis in the federal courts. While President Obama has nominated federal judges at a similar pace as President George W. Bush did in his first term, only 78 percent of his nominees have been confirmed, compared to 89 percent of Bush’s nominees. On average, President Obama’s judicial nominees have been forced to wait three times as long between committee approval and a Senate vote as did nominees in President Bush’s first term.