This week, the Senate returns from its August recess. With all of the needs confronting the nation, it is unconscionable that because of a determined minority, included on its must-do list is a large number of unaddressedjudicial nominations that have been piling up. Despite 92 federal judicial vacancies, 37 of which are deemed judicial emergencies, the Senate left town without taking action on 20 judicial nominees, many of whom were approved without any opposition whatsoever by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and have been waiting for a Senate vote for months.
In prior Congresses, highly qualified nominees like Caitlin Halligan (an accomplished appellate litigator nominated to the D.C. Circuit), Victoria Nourse (a University of Wisconsin law professor recommended by a bipartisan screening committee and nominated to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals), and Morgen Christen (a sitting Alaska Supreme Court Justice nominated to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals) would have gotten a Senate vote months ago. Sixth Circuit nominee Bernice Donald, a sitting district court judge who has the support of her home-state Republican Senators, has been waiting for a vote since May – although her wait will be over later today, when she finally receives a vote.
While judicial nominees willing to serve wait to be given a vote by the Senate, our courts are left to cope with numerous judicial vacancies. As a result, judges’ caseloads are growing,it takes longer to resolve civil cases, and judges have less time available to process criminal cases.Individuals all across our nation are entitled toa day in courtso that their legal claims can be heard, and women rely on our federal court system to enforce critically important legal rights. Women have fought hard to secure the right to turn to the courts when subjected to sex discrimination at work or at school, when the governmentcurtailsher constitutional right to make the most personal and private decisions about her health, including when to bear children, and when there are threats to important health and safety regulations that can affect her life.
The need for justice doesn’t take a break. So it’s time for the Senate to do its job once it gets back to work – a good place to start would be voting on all 20 pending judicial nominees right away.