Senator Leahy Speaks Out on Behalf of Stalled SD FL Judicial Nominations

As David noted the other day, Chief Judge Moreno has started writing letters in hopes of getting Kathy Williams and Bob Scola confirmed as judges sometime this century.

And Glenn Sugameli, a DC wonk who has done great work on this issue, passed along this floor statement by Senator Leahy in which the Senator quotes Judge Moreno's letter and highlights the larger context in which very qualified nominees are being held up for no good reason:
Recently, Chief Judge Moreno of the Southern District of Florida wrote to the Senate leaders urging that they expedite action on two nominations to fill judicial emergency vacancies in that district. Both Kathleen Williams and Robert Scola are among the many judicial nominees who were reported unanimously by the Judiciary Committee, yet both are being delayed for no good reason.

Chief Judge Moreno writes:
 [T]he judicial shortage with three vacancies in our district is becoming acute. For this reason, I ask your assistance in expediting both confirmations. The Judiciary Committee has found the nominees qualified and the people of South Florida eagerly await their service. 
Both of these nominees have the support of their home State Senators— Senator NELSON, a Democrat, and Senator RUBIO, a Republican. The two Senators have set aside partisan actions, and the Senate Judiciary Committee has set aside partisan actions by voting for the nominees unanimously. Why should they be held up because of partisan actions on this floor?
 Good question -- anyone have an answer?


  1. The answer is obvious ... but a taboo subject. Today, federal judges are, in reality, lifetime 'legislators'. Appeals courts are awash with contradictory per curiam orders and who ever gets to appoint a federal judge of his pursuasion has, in effect, had a profound effect on this country, without the input of the electorate.
    No wonder there are so many battles over who to appoint.

  2. Because they are dicks.

  3. did Mag. Goodman go to Georgetown?

  4. Maybe it's because the positions Obama took as a Senator didn't buy him any favors. Then there's Goodwin Liu....

  5. Btw, I support both nominees. But Obama shouldn't be surprised that his rank partisanship as Senator has come back to haunt him.

  6. What was the answer Democrats gave to that question during the Bush administration? You can't cheer on the obstruction for eight years and then pronounced yourself shocked, shocked, that your tactics are turned against you when the party in power switches.

  7. please, idiots, spare us the false indignation. the stats do not lie. they only show how pathetic these people are. the dems should be going to war over this. yet they don't have the stomach for it, and in fairness have their hands full with other problems caused by the grand obstruction party. like the imminent collapse of the world economy due to american ignorance. the idiots also reflect that underlying problem - ignorance. it is the only thing americans like them seem to be good at anymore.
    "percentage of all nominees confirmed:

    Carter - 91.9%
    Reagan - 93.1
    Bush I - 79.3
    Clinton - 84.0
    Bush II - 86.8
    Obama - 33 (avg over the 2.5 year term)"

  8. What poppycock defenses of inaction by the US Senate. By this point in GWB's presidency he had more than 140 federal judges confirmed. Obama has 91. At the same time, the number of vacancies has continued to hover at about 90 seats, as judges continue to retire. We didn't see this kind of artificially inflated vacancy rate during the Bush administration. The Republican Obstruction is out of control and justice suffers as a result.

  9. Facts remain stubborn things.

    There's a great chart on the historically abysmal rate of judicial confirmations at

  10. 1) Obama has been notoriously slow to put nominees in the pipeline, and Dems had supermajorities in the Senate for the first two years of his presidency. For a time they even had a filibuster-beating 60-vote majority. If the nominations aren't moving as fast as you'd like, maybe you should be blaming Pat Leahy and Harry Reid.

    2) Any comparison to the first 2.5 years of Bush's presidency has to take into account the fact that Obama had two SCOTUS nominees confirmed during that period, whereas Bush did not. That consumed time and resources that would otherwise have been spent on lower court nominees.

    3) A review of the stats at reveals that to date, Obama's "historically abysmal" confirmation rates actually exceed Bush's for circuit court nominees (65% vs. 60%). Stubborn things, indeed. SFL and the other commenters here reaching for their fainting couches might consider that the entire disparity consists of district court judges, and even that might not exist at all if the Senate had been able to spend more time on them as opposed to SCOTUS nominations.

  11. but even if everything you say is true, and some of it is, the fact you acknowledge the delay is with the district judges proves the point. there has NEVER been delay over them because the home senators' approval was always enough. delays happened, if ever, at the Circuit or Supreme level. the delays at the DJ level are PURELY political and obstructionist. they should be voice votes over coffee. they still are, in fact, but only when they can get on the calendar, and the GOPS prevent them from getting on the calendar. so your defenses don't wash. this is no way to run a country based upon spite and ignorance. but when did that ever stop them.

  12. For the record, I do think Obama's slow nomination rate is partly to blame, and I've complained about that before.

    But the failure to confirm noncontroversial nominees, supported by bipartisan Senators and voted out of committee on a bipartisan basis, is wrong and really should be condemned by everyone who makes a living in federal court.

  13. Has Reid called for a floor vote on the nominations, or are we just assuming a filibuster? The Dems essentially have 53 in the Senate, plus Rubio's onboard. It's hard to believe that they couldn't get 6 more Republicans (Olympia Snowe, anyone?) to sign on for an up or down vote on the SD Fla. nominees.

  14. Oh please George Gobbles, enough with the big lie. “Judges should not make law.” Bullshit. The common law of England was judge-made law and for all its faults, it is a far better system of rule than the crap those morons in Tallahassee and Washington crank out. Incremental changes based on doing justice to competing parties in a lawsuit are far better way to make rules for society than letting a lobbyist-run sausage factory create the law.

    The fact of the matter is that judges make better law than legislators. Hitler was democratically elected. The legislature should concentrate on spending money and leave the making of law to the branch that is good at it.


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