Submitted by Guest Blogger, Lawrence Rafferty
After a wonderful Christmas weekend spent with my family and my two Grandsons, and after celebrating the Bears victory over the Jets, it is time to get back to work. I was not surprised to read that the Republican minority in the United States Senate have been trying to prevent President Obama’s nominations for the Federal Judiciary from receiving a vote on the Senate floor. However, I was shocked to see the extent of the intentional obstruction. The Obama Administration has the lowest judicial confirmation record since before the Carter administration. Almost one of every nine judicial judgeships is currently without a Federal judge on the bench. How could a minority in the Senate derail the nominations of so many judges to the Federal bench?
Between secret Senatorial holds and the Republican’s favorite obstruction tool, the filibuster, the Republican minority in the Senate has blocked so many nominees from getting a vote on the Senate floor that they have created a vacancy crisis in the Federal Judiciary. “Notably, three of these vacancies are on just one court. Of the four active judgeships on the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois, three are presently vacant, leaving the court’s chief judge as its only active member. Two of President Obama’s nominees to this court, James Shadid and Sue Myerscough, were unanimously approved by the Judiciary Committee for this excessively overburdened court. Yet none of Obama’s nominees to the Central District of Illinois received a vote in the 111th Congress.” http://thinkprogress.org/2010/12/25/judgeships-vacant/ Why would the Republicans want to prevent even non-controversial judges from being confirmed? They are attempting to keep Democratic leaning judges from being sworn into positions where Republican issues can be thwarted or struck down by what they call “activist” judges. Of course, an activist judge is in the eye of the beholder. The Republicans do not care about the Federal Districts being overwhelmed with cases due to the vacancies. It seems obvious that they only care about having judges in place who will rule as they want them to rule. Even if their plan brings the nation’s Federal judiciary to a grinding halt. Is it time to end or limit the filibuster and the secret holds in the Senate?