As power begins to shift in Congress, judicial appointments continue to lag, with little to no public attention or even interest.
Who's to blame?
Some say Obama is too slow on his nominations, others that a partisan Congress is holding the nominations hostage.
At this point I'm sick of excuses and just want some action. The Economist takes a hard look and pretty much agrees:
Wherever the fault lies, the backlog is a serious problem. The Judicial Conference, the policymaking body of the federal court system, ranks 50 of the vacancies as “emergencies”. These include district judgeships with 600 or more cases filed and moving nowhere, or 700 or more filings for a circuit panel. The eastern district of California has a thousand-case pile-up. Border courts in Texas, dealing with drugs and immigration cases, are overwhelmed. The small but important district of Delaware, where many companies are incorporated, is making do with just two federal judges, causing havoc in the various commercial cases. Bill Robinson, the incoming president of the American Bar Association, says that the quality of justice inevitably suffers: “Witnesses die, memories fade.”Sure, all of a sudden Obama's going to develop a backbone and push the GOP to brinkmanship on this issue?
But the issue fails to exercise the general public—or at least, the general Democratic public. After judges seemed to get too uppity in the 1960s and 1970s, Republicans successfully turned “activist judges” into bogeymen, creating bodies like the Federalist Society to nurture conservative legal talent. And Mr Bush effectively used the bully pulpit to call for an “up-or-down” vote on all his nominees at once, leading to a confrontation but ultimately a compromise with Democratic senators in 2005. Dozens of Mr Obama’s nominees are still waiting for something similar.
I'm not holding my breath.