Yesterday in the Senate: Intensified Opposition to Republican Leadership Delays on Nominations
The Senate came back into session this week, and are expected to be in through the end of the month. There are a lot of important items on the Senate’s to-do list, like ensuring that the government has the funding to operate. But one of the Senate’s priorities should be, without question, to do its constitutional duty and make sure that the judicial branch is fully functioning.
Republican leaders in the Senate have done their utmost over the past several years to undermine their coequal branch of government, by refusing to hold hearings or votes on judicial nominees. Exhibit A: The campaign of obstruction against Judge Merrick Garland, nominated in MARCH to fill the vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Exhibits B through Z and back around again: The refusal to move forward on scores of lower court nominees, even those strongly supported by Republican home-state senators, such that the number of judicial vacancies has skyrocketed, from 41 vacancies in January 2015 to 90, currently.
It’s critically important for Republican leaders in the Senate to allow action on nominations now for a number of reasons. The Supreme Court term begins the first Monday in October, and failing to move forward on Judge Garland’s nomination means that the Court will be shorthanded for at least part of two separate terms – impacting the administration of justice across the nation. And vacancies on the lower courts have grown to the point that judges are overwhelmed, individual cases are significantly delayed, and nominees to vacant seats wait for months.
Yesterday, a number of events highlighted the need for Senate actions on nominees. With regard to the vacancy on the Supreme Court, Senators are holding press events to urge action on Judge Garland’s nomination, and it was reported today that Judge Garland will be making more visits to Capitol Hill, and that Vice President Biden will be engaging in Senate outreach around his nomination. With regard to lower court vacancies, Senators went to the Senate floor to ask unanimous consent to schedule votes on numerous nominees to different federal courts.
It’s time for Republican Senators to #DoYourJob.