People For the American Way

Sen. Coons to Senate GOP: Rethink Your Strategy of Obstruction

Sen. Chris Coons was among those who went to the Senate floor earlier today to urge an end to Republican obstruction of judicial nominees. He spoke of his experience as a Delaware attorney, and of Delaware’s long struggle to achieve a full complement of federal judges.

I rise today as … the junior senator from Delaware, but also as a member of the Delaware Bar and a former federal court clerk and someone who has, I think, a personal sense from that experience and my service on the Judiciary Committee, of the consequences of these delays, the consequences of steadily climbing caseloads, significant judicial vacancies, judicial emergencies in districts across our great country, … and what that means for people, for companies, for communities for whom justice is being delayed and thus denied.

Earlier this month, I attended the investiture ceremony of Judge Richard Andrews, who was sworn in to the U.S. District Court for Delaware. This is the first time in six years that the very busy District Court of Delaware has had a full complement of all of its district court judges. And although I am relieved and the people of Delaware are grateful to have a full bench, and although Judge Andrews is an extremely talented lawyer and a devoted public servant and utterly nonpartisan — just the sort of district court nominee of whom the presiding officer just spoke — his nomination took nearly six months to be confirmed by the Senate.

Judge Andrews was confirmed without opposition, yet it took 176 days to confirm this consensus district court nominee. In fact, that’s actually well below the average in this era of GOP obstruction. On average, President Obama’s confirmed district court nominees have taken 207 days to be confirmed (as opposed to only 132 days for Bush’s district court nominees at this point in his administration).

Sen. Coons made a simple request of the authors of this unprecedented obstruction:

I call upon my colleagues on the other side to rethink this strategy of obstruction at all costs, because it is in the end the American people who pay the price.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to matter to many Senate Republicans.


Chris Coons, Courts, judicial nominations, Lower Federal Courts, Obstruction, Obstructionism, Richard Andrews