Saturday, December 26, 2015

End-of-Year judicial confirmation update

On the judicial appointment front, there was good news and bad news before Congress skipped town last week. 

The good news was that the Senate confirmed two of President Barack Obama's long-pending judicial nominations.

The bad news was that the two were for the D.C. Superior Court, the local trial court for the nation's capital and not one with federal jurisdiction.

Overall, 2015 proceeded about as poorly on the judicial confirmation front as possible without a complete blockade of Obama appointees. The Senate only got around to confirming 10 District Court judges and only one Circuit Court Nominee. 

Compare that record with the 12 circuit court and 76 District Court Appointees confirmed in 2014 with a Democratic-controlled Senate and no filibuster for lower-court appointees.

And we won't even talk about the Court of Federal Claims appointees lying fallow.

Yes, elections matter, why do you ask?

Obama has compounded this problem by not nominating any more circuit court judges (though he has continued to nominate considerable numbers of district court judges). Granted, this is something of a chicken-and-egg problem, as McConnell has hinted the Senate wouldn't confirm any new circuit judge appointments anyway. However, it would still be nice to try -- especially given two long-standing openings on the Fifth Circuit, currently controlled 10-5 by GOP appointees and having a median justice somewhere to the right of Atilla the Hun, especially on reproductive rights.

Mitch McConnell has agreed to schedule final votes for four more district court judges by President's Day and Luis Felipe Restrepo on January 11.

It ain't much, but it is a start.

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