People For the American Way

The Wrong Way to Address the Backlog of Pending Nominations

There are currently 29 highly qualified judicial nominees who have been fully vetted by the Judiciary Committee and are waiting for a confirmation vote. Many of them would have been confirmed last year but for Republican obstruction. 26 of the 29 received strong bipartisan support in the Judiciary, and 22 were approved unanimously. If Republicans would drop their opposition to confirmation votes on all these nominees, the Senate could quickly eliminate a third of the nation's judicial vacancies.

Of course, forcing so many pending nominees to languish on the floor looks bad, and letting that number grow larger and larger would make the GOP look even worse. Allowing confirmation votes would prevent that. But the other “solution” is to block the Judiciary Committee from advancing more nominees to the floor.

With three nominees on the agenda for a committee vote tomorrow, the number of nominees on the floor could increase to 32. But far more likely is that committee Republicans will prevent that from happening by doing what they have done throughout Obama's presidency, with only five exceptions: They will exercise their right to delay a committee vote by at least a week without having to offer a reason. (Also on the agenda and likely to be held over without explanation is Debo Adegbile, President Obama's nominee to head the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department.)

So tomorrow, if the number of nominees waiting on the floor for a yes-or-no confirmation vote doesn't go up, it won't be because Senate Republicans have suddenly committed themselves to preventing an increasingly large backup from developing. It will just mean they are continuing to take every opportunity to obstruct President Obama's nominees.

UPDATE: As predicted, committee votes on all the nominees were indeed held over at the request of the GOP.


Debo Adegbile, judicial nominations, Lower Federal Courts, Obstruction, Obstructionism