April 23, 2013

On Judges, Senate Democrats Lack Evidence

Last week, Senator Grassley set the record straight on Senate Democrats’ false charges of Republican obstructionism on judicial confirmations. The Ranking Member’s call for an end to the “crocodile tears” from Senate Democrats was warranted.

For example, just a few hours after one Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, Senator Coons took to the floor to express unfounded concerns over what he imagined to be a filibuster for the nominee. But in reality, there was no suggestion by committee Republicans at the hearing of an intent to hinder the nomination. In fact, the nominee was so well received by Senate Republicans that it was said the nominee might make “a great circuit judge.”

In another example of exaggerated claims of Republican obstructionism, some Democrats have mistakenly asserted that Republicans broke the 2005 “Gang of 14” agreement on judges. This agreement was limited to “pending and future judicial nominations in the 109th Congress.” Even if the agreement went beyond that Congress, Senate Democrats – including signatories to the agreement and then-Senator Obama – abandoned it long ago.

Judges Continue to Be Confirmed

confirmation comparison

The Senate continues to treat President Obama’s judicial nominees better in his second term than previous Presidents’ nominees have been treated in their second terms.

  • The Senate has confirmed 13 judges so far this Congress – four to courts of appeals and nine to district courts. In addition, another circuit court judge confirmation is scheduled for this week.
  • By comparison, at this same point in the second term of President Bush, the Senate had only confirmed one district court judge.
  • In 1997, at the beginning of President Clinton’s second term, the Senate had confirmed just two judges – one district court and one circuit court – in March of that year. The next confirmation did not occur until May.

The 13 judges confirmed this Congress come on the heels of a productive 112th Congress.

  • During the 112th Congress, the Senate confirmed 111 of President Obama’s judicial nominees – the most since the 103rd Congress.
  • The Senate has defeated only two of President Obama’s nominees.  

Judicial Vacancies Are of the Democrats’ Making

Senate Democrats have only the President to blame for the current number of judicial vacancies. Most of the vacancies in the federal judiciary are due to the Administration’s failure to nominate individuals.

  • For those 83 vacancies, the Administration has made only 22 nominations; leaving 61 vacancies with no action yet from the President.

vacancies awaiting nomination

Issue Tag: Judiciary