Friday, March 19, 2010

Slowdown in Judicial Nominating Process?


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.

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.
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).

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.

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.
Can Harry Reid "deem and pass" some of these nominations?

8 comments:

  1. The LA Times also had a good story on how lawsuits have improved auto safety-

    http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-toyota-litigate14-2010mar14,0,2005316.story

    A century later, litigation continues to be a significant factor in making the automobile safer, say legal and auto industry experts. Consumers, insurers, federal regulators and automakers themselves also play big roles, but lawsuits are credited with such innovations as impact-absorbing dashboards and steering columns, and gas tanks that won't explode when a car is rear-ended.

    "One instance where litigation did obviously play a role was with the gas tank placement issue, and [Ford's] Pinto was only one example," said Logan Robinson, a University of Detroit law professor and former general counsel for Chrysler International, recalling the 1970s rash of small cars exploding after rear-end collisions. "Now, most all cars are designed to take at least a 50-mph hit."

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  2. "Deem and pass" is a really bastardized term right now. It only means voting yes or no to a package, instead of taking two votes separately.

    But the Senate is another story. When times are good, there is a justification for the Senate rules -- if it's not broke, don't fix it. Needing a supermajority is a good thing.

    But these are not good times. We need fast and drastic action. Observe how the rules that allowed the 2008 economic collapse remain the same in 2010 ~ after over 19 months of Senate inaction.

    The filibuster has to go, or it will be the death of this country.

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  3. Some of us are old enough to remember who dragged judicial nominations into the political gutter. The spectacle of Sen. Ted Kennedy grilling Clarence Thomas over allegations of sexual harassment was delicious crazy. And let's not forget who made the name "Bork" into a verb, folks.

    And are we trying to create a myth that the Dems never filibustered Bush's appointees to the lower courts? Oh, my. The worm does turn.

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  4. I mean, let's be honest, the developing pattern is for Obama to blame his failings (and there are a lot of them) on either W. or on the Republicans in congress. Such childishness, while expected from his base, is unbecoming for a sitting president. However, it's typical of Obama's thin-skinned personality to never accept responsibility for anything that might take the shine off of that halo that the media holds over him.

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  5. Didn't someone once say that, "Republicans love their party more than they love their country."

    That would be a shame if it's true.

    .

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  6. I LOVED the Thomas confirmation hearings!! Really jump started my career.

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  7. Hey Rick. You still cruising around in your government vee-hickle, tapping free WiFi from unsuspecting civilians?

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