President Obama Asks Senate for ‘Up or Down Vote’ on Judges and Other Nominees

Categories: Judiciary, News

In his State of the Union
speech
last night, President Obama called on the Senate to end the partisan
gridlock that is blocking or delaying the confirmation of qualified judges and other
executive branch appointments.

“Some of what’s broken [in Washington] has to do with the
way Congress does its business these days.  A simple majority is no longer
enough to get anything -– even routine business –- passed through the
Senate. Neither party has been blameless in these tactics. Now both
parties should put an end to it,” said Obama. “For starters, I ask the Senate
to pass a simple rule that all judicial and public service nominations receive
a simple up or down vote within 90 days.”

Civil and human rights group concerned
about the high number judicial vacancies in the federal court system welcomed the president’s focus on the obstructionist
tactics, particularly those used against judicial nominees.

“The state of our union would be stronger if senators would
do their constitutional duty to provide advice and consent instead of delaying
and obstructing President Obama’s highly qualified judicial nominees,” said
Nancy Zirkin, executive vice president of The Leadership Conference on Civil
and Human Rights. “The 100-plus current and future vacant judgeships mean
justice delayed and denied for millions of Americans who must wait for their
day in court. Instead of delaying and blocking nominations, the Senate should
quickly provide yes-or-no confirmation votes for the 18 nominees pending on the
Senate floor, and continue considering all nominees in a timely manner throughout
the year.”

As the Alliance
for Justice (AFJ) has shown
, at this time in their first terms, both Presidents
Bush and Clinton had 82 percent of their district court nominees confirmed by the
Senate, compared with 73 percent for Obama. Currently, AFJ has identified
105 judicial vacancies in federal district and circuit courts. Of these
vacancies, AFJ says 32 are “judicial emergencies,” meaning that there are too many
cases and too few judges to hear them.