President Obama Asks Senate for ‘Up or Down Vote’ on Judges and Other Nominees
January 25, 2012 - Posted by Ron Bigler
In his State of the Union speech last night, President Obama called on the Senate to end the partisan gridlock that is blocking or delaying the confirmation of qualified judges and other executive branch appointments.
“Some of what’s broken [in Washington] has to do with the way Congress does its business these days. A simple majority is no longer enough to get anything -– even routine business –- passed through the Senate. Neither party has been blameless in these tactics. Now both parties should put an end to it,” said Obama. “For starters, I ask the Senate to pass a simple rule that all judicial and public service nominations receive a simple up or down vote within 90 days.”
Civil and human rights group concerned about the high number judicial vacancies in the federal court system welcomed the president’s focus on the obstructionist tactics, particularly those used against judicial nominees.
"The state of our union would be stronger if senators would do their constitutional duty to provide advice and consent instead of delaying and obstructing President Obama’s highly qualified judicial nominees," said Nancy Zirkin, executive vice president of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. "The 100-plus current and future vacant judgeships mean justice delayed and denied for millions of Americans who must wait for their day in court. Instead of delaying and blocking nominations, the Senate should quickly provide yes-or-no confirmation votes for the 18 nominees pending on the Senate floor, and continue considering all nominees in a timely manner throughout the year."
As the Alliance for Justice (AFJ) has shown, at this time in their first terms, both Presidents Bush and Clinton had 82 percent of their district court nominees confirmed by the Senate, compared with 73 percent for Obama. Currently, AFJ has identified 105 judicial vacancies in federal district and circuit courts. Of these vacancies, AFJ says 32 are “judicial emergencies,” meaning that there are too many cases and too few judges to hear them.
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