The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

Confirm Robert E. Bacharach to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals

Advocacy Letter - 07/30/12

Source: The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Recipient: U.S. Senate

Dear Senator:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, we write to express our strong support for the confirmation of U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert E. Bacharach to serve on the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. Judge Bacharach’s solid professional background, his keen intellect, his commitment to fairness, and his utmost respect for the Constitution and the rule of law all make him an ideal candidate. We urge you to vote “yes” on cloture and “yes” on his confirmation.

Judge Bacharach’s background is outstanding. He graduated from Washington University School of Law in 1985, and was named to the Order of the Coif (the top 10 percent of his class). He spent two years as a clerk for Judge William J. Holloway, Jr. on the Tenth Circuit, and then spent the next twelve years working for the Oklahoma firm of Crowe & Dunlevy, where he specialized in commercial litigation. In 1999, he became a Magistrate Judge for the Western District of Oklahoma, where he has presided over thousands of civil and criminal cases covering nearly all areas of the law, and where he has earned a reputation for helping parties to settle their cases. The American Bar Association has unanimously rated him “well qualified” for elevation to the Tenth Circuit, he was reported from the Judiciary Committee by a voice vote with only one opponent, and he has been praised by his home state Senators as well as many other experts in the legal community – from across the political and ideological spectrum – who know him best.

Judge Bacharach’s qualifications, of course, are not the issue. Earlier this summer, the Senate Minority Leader invoked what some have referred to as the “Thurmond Rule,” and stated that he would no longer consent to up-or-down confirmation votes on any circuit court nominees – no matter how well-qualified they are, and no matter how much bipartisan support they have – until the upcoming presidential election.

While we could certainly understand the desire of a Minority Leader to keep a president from filling the courts with highly partisan or ideological lifetime nominees in the last months of his term, the Minority Leader’s blanket opposition to any nominee goes well beyond historical precedent. In the past five presidential election years, only four circuit nominees reported from the Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support have been denied an up-or-down vote on the Senate Floor under the so-called Thurmond Rule. All four were nominated by President Clinton. In those same years, a total of thirteen circuit court nominees have been confirmed after June 1. Twelve of them were Republican nominees.

The Minority Leader’s current position is, simply enough, not at all rooted in the traditions of the Senate. Instead, it is a continuation of his efforts throughout the Obama presidency to use every procedural tactic at his disposal to prevent President Obama from fulfilling his constitutional responsibilities. From a purely political perspective, his efforts have paid off: judicial vacancies are now more than twice as high as they were in the previous two presidential election years. Yet the damage to our nation’s judiciary and to those who rely on it for the fair, efficient administration of justice has been immeasurable. We are gravely concerned that the Minority Leader’s most recent distortion of Senate tradition – if allowed to prevail – will only make matters worse. Moreover, we fear that it could set a new and very unfortunate precedent that will have lasting repercussions for the judicial confirmation process in the future.

For these reasons, we urge you to support cloture on the confirmation of Judge Robert E. Bacharach. If you have any questions, please contact either of us or Senior Counsel Rob Randhava at (202) 466-6058.


Wade Henderson
President & CEO

Nancy Zirkin
Executive Vice President

Our Members