Earlier today, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid condemned Senate Republicans for obstructing Third Circuit nominee L. Felipe Restrepo. Although home state Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania publicly expressed support for him half a year ago when he was first nominated, he has blocked the Judiciary Committee from holding a hearing. Whether he is doing this on his own or at the request of committee chairman Chuck Grassley is a mystery, since Toomey has refused to state why he is blocking a nominee he supports.
As Senator Reid said today:
This afternoon, the Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on several delayed judicial nominations. Felipe Restrepo, a Court of Appeals nominee to the Third Circuit will not be on the agenda, despite being nominated by the President six months ago. He will not be on the agenda, despite the fact that this Philadelphia-based seat is a judicial emergency. He will not be on the agenda, despite the public support of the junior Senator from Pennsylvania who said Judge Restrepo would be "a superb addition to the Third Circuit." Why doesn't he come here – the junior Senator from Pennsylvania – to talk about this man being held up by his own party? There is no reason that he's held up for six months other than the Republicans just simply want to do everything they can to create problems for President Obama. Pennsylvanians are left wondering why this qualified judicial candidate is not moving forward.
It isn't like Pennsylvanians haven't asked. In fact, some traveled to Washington earlier this week to visit Casey and Toomey's DC offices personally, but Toomey's office reportedly refused to meet with them.
This is part of the Republicans' overall scheme to prevent President Obama from fulfilling his constitutional responsibility to put qualified jurists on the nation's federal bench. But the Third Circuit vacancy is a judicial emergency, and a second vacancy on that court will be opening up in July. Pennsylvanians need Restrepo fully vetted and confirmed by then, but Washington Republicans want to keep the court hobbled for as long as they can.
Senator Toomey seems all too willing to sacrifice Pennsylvanians' interests to his party's political goals.