Judicial Nominees Caught in ‘Massive Logjam’

While it’s debatable whether our country has an actual “budget crisis” – as opposed to an ideological battle over the appropriate way to address our short- and long-term budget deficits – there’s absolutely no question that our country is suffering from a judicial vacancy crisis. Simply put, there aren’t enough federal judges being confirmed fast enough to keep up with retirements and growing caseloads.

According to a new CNN report, the situation is “dire,” caused by “a massive logjam on Capitol Hill.”

“We have a crisis, we have vacancies, and we would like to have them filled so that justice can be served,” Judge Roslyn Silver, the chief judge of the federal District of Arizona, told CNN.

Only 77 of Obama’s lower court nominees have been confirmed, compared with 135 for President Clinton and 117 for President George W. Bush at this point in their presidencies, according to statistics compiled by the Alliance for Justice. Currently, there are 92 vacancies on the lower court, with another 23 judges having given the president notice that they intend to leave active service in the near future. There are also 44 judicial nominees waiting for a confirmation vote in the Senate.

According to legal columnist Linda Greenhouse:

There are no excuses either for the administration or for the Democratic leadership in the Senate not to get down to the business of filling the 92 vacancies that now exist on the federal district courts and courts of appeals (up from 54 vacancies when President Obama took office, or from six percent to more than 10 percent of the 857 authorized judgeships).

Meanwhile, for those who people, businesses and organizations that depend on the federal courts, justice delayed is justice denied.