The Senate on Monday unanimously confirmed Waverly Crenshaw, Jr. to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, making him the first federal judge confirmed in exactly two months. Crenshaw, an African American who had the support of both his Republican home-state senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, waited more than 14 months for confirmation – even though he fills one of more than 30 judicial emergencies nationwide.
Crenshaw is just the sixth judicial nominee confirmed in 2016, and the 17th approved since Republicans took over the Senate last year. This Congress is on pace to have the lowest number of judges confirmed since the 1950s.
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and 42 other organizations sent a letter last week to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R. Iowa, calling out the committee’s inaction on dozens of lower court nominees.
“The complete obstruction of nominees is unprecedented, and the arguments some are making in defense of this obstruction are wholly unpersuasive. In 2008, the Democratic party-controlled Senate confirmed 22 judges in the last seven months of George W. Bush’s presidency, including 10 in September 2008,” the letter states. “During Ronald Reagan’s presidency, the Senate on average confirmed 16 judges in the second half of presidential election years. There is no legitimate reason why things should be any different in the last year of President Obama’s second term.”
Edward Stanton III – another African-American Tennessee nominee – is still pending on the Senate floor, in addition to 10 other individuals who Obama nominated last year. Nearly three dozen more nominees, including seven circuit court nominees who Obama nominated earlier this year, still need a committee hearing.
There are currently no hearings or votes scheduled on judicial nominees.