Ever wonder why Obama is moving so slow on judicial nominations?
Here's a good article on the problem:
An early chance for the Obama administration to reshape the nation's judiciary -- and counter gains made in the federal courts by conservatives -- appears close to slipping away, due to a combination of White House inattention and Republican opposition.That's a pretty poor track record, at a time when judges are overworked and have important issues on their dockets (ok, some of them).
During President Obama's first year, judicial nominations trickled out of the White House at a far slower pace than in President George W. Bush's first year. Bush announced 11 nominees for federal appeals courts in the fourth month of his tenure. Obama didn't nominate his 11th appeals court judge until November, his 10th month in office.
Moreover, Obama nominees are being confirmed at a much slower rate than those of his predecessor, largely because of the gridlocked Senate.
Key slots stand without nominees, including two on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the body that reviews decisions by federal agencies and a court that is considered second in importance only to the Supreme Court. Federal judicial vacancies nationwide have mushroomed to well over 100, with two dozen more expected before the end of the year. To date, the Obama administration has nominees for just 52 of those slots, and only 17 have been confirmed.
Why is this happening? It's that darn 60 vote thing again:
Judge confirmations have become like any other piece of legislation on the Hill. Democrats argue that the GOP leadership is requiring time-consuming cloture votes -- motions to cut off debate that need 60 votes to pass and then often require hours of floor time to be spent before a final vote can be taken -- on judges that are unopposed.Can Harry Reid "deem and pass" some of these nominations?
Earlier this month, Republicans required a cloture vote on Barbara Keenan, a nominee to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va. After that vote, Keenan was confirmed by a 99-0 tally.
By contrast, more than half of Bush's judicial nominees were confirmed by voice vote or unanimous consent. Democrats consented to their confirmation without requiring time to be spent on a roll-call vote on the Senate floor.