People For the American Way

Organizations Call on Senate Leaders to Keep Confirmations Moving

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 15, 2011

Contact: Drew Courtney or Miranda Blue at People For the American Way

Email: [email protected]

Phone Number: 202-467-4999

In a letter sent today, a wide array of organizations called on Senate leaders to ensure that President Obama’s judicial nominees receive timely votes during the 112th Congress.

The groups, including a range of environmental, labor, civil rights and good government groups, called attention to the real world impact of judicial vacancies: a system overwhelmed with filings that make it increasingly difficult for ordinary Americans to have their day in court. Currently there are 101 seats open on the federal courts, 44 of which have been designated as judicial emergencies.

“The delays caused by these vacancies might not be a significant problem for giant corporate interests that can afford to wait years for cases to be resolved,” said Marge Baker of People For the American Way, “but they’re doing real harm to small businesses and ordinary people who need their cases resolved in a timely manner. President Obama has nominated well qualified jurists to fill these seats. Now the Senate needs to stay focused on the regular order consideration of these nominees. The American public’s confidence in our system of justice needs to be restored.”

In the current Congress, the Senate has confirmed five nominees, none of whom received a single vote of opposition. Last night, the Senate confirmed James Graves Jr. to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and Edward J. Davila to the Northern District of California. Graves will be the first African American from Mississippi to serve on the 5th Circuit.

“The Senate has started to make some progress,” said Baker, “but there’s a long way left to go.Americans understand that they don’t have access to justice without functioning courts, and the overwhelming number of vacancies has put our system of justice in serious danger. The Senate’s inability to confirm judicial nominees is part of the partisan gridlock that is damaging this country and that voters reject.”

You can read the letter here: