Archive for the 'Judicial Nominations' Category
Democratic and Republican lawmakers alike have filibustered judicial appointments for political reasons over the years, but Republicans have almost turned blocking judicial nominees into a “mad science” that must end, says a Buffalo News opinion.
President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees continue to be challenged at every turn of the confirmation process. One nominee whom he put forth for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit was filibustered and has withdrawn, and another is under consideration.
The 11-member court currently has four vacancies, making it difficult for the other judges to properly carry out their duties, the opinion argues. The longer the vacancies remain unfilled, the more cases will be delayed. Read more
Sri Srinivasan, a Justice Department official and high-profile judicial nominee, sailed through a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday. No Republican senator signaled outright opposition, providing a stark contrast to the experience of President Obama’s first nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
While New York lawyer Caitlin Halligan was filibustered twice by Republicans and ultimately withdrew her nomination (see Gavel Grab), Srinivasan “breezed his way through an uneventful Senate confirmation hearing” and won declared support of a Republican senator too, according to a New York Times article.
A Los Angeles Times article suggested the strategy for success that Obama may have adopted to put Srinivasan on the the second most influential appeals court: “He chose a highly regarded corporate lawyer whose resume suggests he could have been a Republican nominee.”
For a switch, a big part of the news from such a hearing was the absence of partisan attacks on the nominee. The hearing provided “a break from ongoing partisan battles over judicial appointments,” Reuters reported. A committee vote on Srinivasan’s nomination will be scheduled for a later session. Read more
Although there were some signs of bipartisanship when the Senate Judiciary Committee opened its hearing on a high-profile judicial nominee on Wednesday, the session quickly turned political, according to a Blog of Legal Times post.
While Sri Srinivasan, nominated for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, was in the spotlight, the hearing gave way to partisan debate about the speed in which the Senate handles — or fails to handle — judicial nominations. In addition, Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa (photo) announced controversial legislation.
Grassley said he would trim the Washington, D.C.-based court from 11 judges to 8, and shift judgeships elsewhere, to courts that Grassley said are faced with higher caseloads. The D.C. Circuit is widely considered a stepping stone to the Supreme Court. It currently has seven judges and a majority appointed by Republican presidents; there are no Obama appointees on the court yet.
Grassley’s action, according to Blog of Legal Times, “underscored how, despite Srinivasan’s broad support and excellent legal pedigree, his nomination to the second highest court in the United States will have to navigate one of the most gridlocked parts of a gridlocked Senate.” Read more
Shortly before a Senate committee was to begin a high-profile hearing today on a judicial nominee, a prominent Republican attorney lamented how politicized the judicial confirmation process has become.
“We’ve lived through this atmosphere since the confirmation hearings of Judge Bork,” Kenneth Starr (photo) told the New York Times, mentioning Democrats’ defeat in 1987 of Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork. “I wish we could get past the era of such a deeply politicized process.”
President Obama’s administration is pushing for confirmation of Justice Department official Sri Srinivasan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit “with a coordination and an energy that echo a Supreme Court nomination fight,” the Times article said. If it fails, a confrontation over judicial nominees may lie ahead.
A Washington Post editorial, meanwhile, condemned what its headline branded as the “Republicans’ D.C. Circuit barricade.” There are four open seats on the influential 11-member court, and another of Obama’s nominees withdrew after Republicans twice filibustered her nomination (see Gavel Grab about the nomination of Caitlin Halligan).
In recent days, Gavel Grab repeatedly has mentioned rising media interest in President Obama’s nomination of Justice Department official Sri Srinivasan for the nation’s second most influential federal appeals court. Now Jeffrey Toobin suggests in the New Yorker why the stakes surrounding Srinivasan’s nomination may seem so high:
“The next Supreme Court confirmation hearing begins on Wednesday afternoon, April 10th. Technically, Sri Srinivasan is just a candidate for the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, but few are misled. The stakes in this nomination are clear: if Srinivasan passes this test and wins confirmation, he’ll be on the Supreme Court before President Obama’s term ends.”
The nation is facing “political paralysis” in the Senate over judicial confirmations, and the impact is so severe that it is time to consider bolder options to resolve the stalemate, a New York Times editorial declared. It characterized the existing situation this way:
“The number of vacancies on the nation’s federal courts has reached an astonishingly high level, creating a serious shortage of judges and undermining the ability of the nation’s court system to bestow justice.”
Eighty-five out of 856 district and appeals court seats are vacant, and the leading factor is the desire of Senate Republicans to block as many of President Obama’s judicial nominees as possible, the editorial said. As a prime example of partisan obstructionism, it pointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, with four seats vacant out of 11 — and none yet filled by Obama.
The editorial identified options worth considering that include another look by Democrats at filibuster reform and also having Obama name four nominees to the D.C.-based appeals court at once. Read more
To some analysts, President Obama’s nomination of Justice Department official Sri Srinivasan to a Washington, D.C.-based appeals court represents more than another skirmish. It could represent a test of whether the Senate can effectively handle judicial nominations any longer, they suggest.
Given significant bipartisan support for Srinivasan in the legal world, and Obama’s failure to date to win confirmation of a single nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the nomination becomes a “moment of truth on D.C. Circuit nominations,” according to a Washington Post blogby Jonathan Bernstein.
“If 41 or more Republicans simply will not vote for anyone to the left of John Roberts, the only option left to Democrats will be Senate rules reform,” Bernstein writes. “On the other hand, if Srinivasan can be confirmed, Republican claims that they have objected only to specific nominees for specific reasons can be taken more seriously.” It takes 60 votes to cut off a filibuster of a motion to proceed to an up-or-down vote; Chief Justice John Roberts formerly sat on the appeals court.
With a Senate committee poised to consider President Obama’s nomination of a high-profile appeals court nominee, a Washington Post blog attempts to provide context by asking, “How controversial are President Obama’s judicial nominees?”
Reporter Juliet Eilperin points out that of 15 court nominees awaiting Senate up-or-down votes, 13 emerged from the Senate Judiciary Committee with unanimous approval.
Even the “centrist credentials” of Sri Srinivasan, nominated for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, “don’t guarantee him a speedy confirmation,” Eilperin writes. The Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing next week (see Gavel Grab) on the nomination of Srinivasan, a senior Justice Department official.
As evidence, Eilperin points to data that showing that the average wait for Senate floor vote facing an Obama judicial nominee is 116 days, according to the White House, Read more
The White House has launched a new offensive to win Senate confirmation of Justice Department lawyer Sri Srinivasan to the second most influential U.S. appeals court, and President Barack Obama has become personally engaged in the effort.
Washington Post and Bloomberg published articles about the offensive, while noting that four of seven seats on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit currently are vacant, and the Washington, D.C.-based court has the jurisdiction over challenges to executive branch actions that can aid or hinder an administration’s effectiveness.
Srinivasan (photo) is principal deputy U.S. solicitor general. His nomination is getting increased attention because it will be the subject of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing next week, because the current court has a majority of Republican-appointed judges and because Obama has not succeeded in his more than four years in the White House at confirming a judge to this appeals court.
Despite bipartisan pleas from President Barack Obama for Senate Republicans to end their filibusters of his nominees, judicial candidates continue to wait extraordinary lengths of time to be confirmed, states a New York Times editorial.
Compared to his predecessors, the average wait on a confirmation vote for Obama’s judicial nominees has been 227 days. President George W. Bush’s nominees waited an average of 175 days, according to the editorial.
Senate Republicans filibustered New York attorney Caitlin Halligan twice, leading her to withdraw from consideration last week (see Gavel Grab). If Republicans won’t stop their “malicious behavior,” then Democratic senators must step up and change Senate rules to prohibit filibusters on nominations, the editorial argues. Read more