Last Congress Confirmed 134 Judges, This Congress Has Confirmed 12
Yesterday the Senate voted to confirm Judge Felipe Restrepo to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals by a vote of 82-6. Judge Restrepo was nominated for this seat by President Obama on November 12, 2014, meaning he waited 426 days to be confirmed. This also means the Third Circuit and all the people who rely on the Third Circuit for the quick and effective administration of justice had to wait 426 days for a judge who was easily confirmed once he was given a vote.
While it is great that the Third Circuit is getting a well-qualified and much needed new judge, there are 72 remaining judicial vacancies—32 of which have been officially designated as judicial emergencies. For some context, when President Obama took office there were 55 federal judicial vacancies. The Senate and the White House were able to work together and get that number down to 43 at the beginning of 2015. However, that progress was quickly erased as the Senate refused to process nominees in a timely manner over the course of 2015.
The 112th Congress confirmed 111 judges, the 113th Congress confirmed 134, but in 2015—the first half of the 114th Congress—the Senate confirmed only 11 judges. This cannot continue. The second session of the 114th Congress begins with the confirmation of Judge Restrepo, but everyone who relies on our country’s federal courts needs Congress to fill as many of the remaining 72 judicial vacancies as possible in 2016.