WASHINGTON – People For the American Way applauded the Senate’s unanimous confirmation today of Shelly Deckert Dick to be a district judge for the Middle District of Louisiana and Nelson Stephen Román to be a district judge for the Southern District of New York.
The Senate GOP needlessly delayed both nominees after they were named last year, forcing President Obama to renominate them at the beginning of this year.
“The Senate is making encouraging progress as it continues to work through the backlog of judicial nominations,” said Marge Baker, Executive Vice President of People For the American Way. “However, they have plenty of ground to make up. That these two highly qualified, unopposed nominees have been forced to wait as long as they have for a simple yes-or-no vote is outrageous. Senate Republicans have taken obstruction to a new level, making even President Obama’s unopposed district court nominees wait an average of nearly three times as long as President Bush’s.”
Dick, who was first nominated on April 25, 2012, waited over one year for a vote from the full Senate because Louisiana Sen. David Vitter blocked her, citing the fact that it was an election year. This obstruction was a sharp departure from when President Bush was running for reelection. In 2004, everyone he nominated on or after April 25 (the date that Dick was nominated) and before Labor Day received both a committee hearing and a committee vote before Election Day. In 2008, when Democrats controlled the Senate, they scheduled hearings, committee votes, and floor votes for eleven Bush district court nominees who had been nominated closer to the election than Shelly Dick was. Most of these were nominated after the July 4 holiday, and they were all confirmed by voice vote before Election Day.
A Congressional Research Service report  this week found that President Obama’s judicial nominees have faced dramatically longer wait times on the Senate floor than did nominees in previous administrations.
“The Senate must pick up the pace of confirmations to end the vacancy crisis on the federal courts. They should start by promptly holding yes-or-no votes on the eight judicial nominees currently awaiting confirmation," Baker added.
Today, the White House put forth nominees for two additional federal district court vacancies , Madeline Hughes Haikala for the Northern District of Alabama and Gregory Howard Woods for the Southern District of New York. They should be moved through the Committee as expeditiously as possible.