As a result of politicized efforts to stall or block the confirmation of qualified U.S. judges, “we are in the midst of the worst federal court vacancy crisis since 1953,” Michele Jawando of the Center for American Progress writes in a Philly.com op-ed.
Pennsylvania is one of the states with the most judicial vacancies, and it illustrates the impact of the crisis, she says: “Pennsylvanians are being denied timely access to a judicial system that is usually their last resort for critical issues such as citizenship status, access to health care, environmental pollution, employment disputes, and basic civil rights.” She cites the nomination of Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo for the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, awaiting a Senate vote (see Gavel Grab), as an example of political obstructionism in the Senate.
With the Senate having voted to confirm only seven federal judges so far this year, the issue of court backlogs and judicial vacancies is getting a lot more attention. Nashville Scene had an article titled, “With confirmation hearings running far behind, Tennessee’s federal judicial nominees are left to cool their heels.”