U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has delivered an urgent appeal from the Obama administration for the U.S. Senate to end a “crisis in our courts” created by judicial vacancies and vote to confirm nominees who have gained majority support.
In a Washington Post op-ed, Holder points to 23 judicial nominees awaiting votes in the final days of this year’s Senate calendar, with 16 of them having won unanimous bipartisan approval from the Senate Judiciary Committee. He calls the confirmation process “twisted in knots” and protests that the long-delayed nominees have support from home-state senators and drew “little or no opposition” in committee. He warns that the federal judiciary, with 103 vacancies, is severely stressed:
“The federal judicial system that has been a rightful source of pride for the United States — the system on which we all depend for a prompt and fair hearing of our cases when we need to call on the law — is stressed to the breaking point.”
The attorney general quotes Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy as recently cautioning that if important judgeships are left vacant, the “rule of law is imperiled.” Holder concludes by calling on Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell to live up to a statement he made in 2005 calling for up-or-down votes on judicial nominees with majority Senate support:
“I agree. It’s time to address the crisis in our courts. It’s time to confirm these judges.” (more…)