People For the American Way

So Many Vacancies, So Little Cooperation from GOP Senators

President Obama has had a lot more vacancies to fill in our nation's judiciary than George W. Bush had at this point in his presidency. Unfortunately, due to obstructionism from the GOP, that has resulted in a large number of longtime vacancies without nominees.

Especially at the district court level, senators play an enormous role in determining who will be nominated to judgeships in their state. When senators work cooperatively with the White House, recommendations and nominations can be made quickly. We’ve seen such cooperation from senators in states like Virginia, Vermont, New Mexico, and Colorado. Not coincidentally, these are all states with two Democratic senators.

States with Republican senators are far more likely to have vacancies without nominees. Of the 37 current vacancies without nominees, all but six are from states with at least Republican senator. And of those six, only one is more than a year old. Despite White House consultations with home state senators, vacancies are remaining open and without nominees for far too long – sometimes years – in states with Republican senators.

These are things to think about next time you see someone blaming the persistently high vacancy rate on a lack of nominees from the White House.


judicial nominations, Lower Federal Courts