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Republicans Aim To Break Obstruction Record On President Obama's Judges

Mar 14, 2012

Republicans are taking unprecedented steps to block President Obama's judicial nominees, refusing up-or-down votes on judges that have widespread bipartisan support and filibustering even those judges that had the unanimous support of the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

GOP Has a "New Standard" When It Comes to President Obama's Nominations

Republicans used to say it's unconstitutional to deny a President a simple up-or-down vote on his judicial nominees.   Now they are changing their tune.  Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah recently conceded that a "new standard" is being applied to President Obama's judicial nominees.

  • Longer Delays: On average, President Obama's nominees have waited over 100 days to be confirmed, nearly 5 times longer than President Bush's nominees did at the same point in his administration.

  • Fewer Confirmations: Only 131 of President Obama's nominees have been confirmed, as opposed to 172 for President Bush at this point in his presidency and 183 under President Clinton at the same point in his.
  • Floor Opposition: To date, 19 of President Obama's district court nominees have been opposed on the floor - compared to only five throughout President Bush's entire administration.
  • More "No" Votes: President Obama's district court nominees have received five times as many "no" votes in three years than all of President Bush's nominees.
  • Creating a Bottleneck: Bucking a bipartisan Senate tradition that goes back to Reagan, for the past two years Republicans have refused to take action on nominees with bipartisan support by the end of the year, causing a bottleneck that has led to a spike in the number of judicial vacancies.

The Impact: Justice Delayed

As a result of Republican obstruction, the judicial vacancy rate is 10% - double that under President Bush at the same time in his presidency.  In stark contrast, vacancies were cut in half during President Clinton's and Bush's first three years.

  • The Judge Shortage: Republicans are blocking so many nominees that they've left half of all Americans - over 160 million people - without enough judges to handle the caseload. In fact, judicial emergencies have been declared in some thirty-five federal courts across the country.
  • Justice Delayed: As a result of these vacancies, families and businesses typically must wait over 2 yearsbefore their civil trial can even start. Even worse, it cost the federal government $1.4 billion, in 2010 alone, to detain inmates awaiting trial because there weren't enough federal judges to hear their cases.