On a day marked by the formal end of the deal struck between Senate Democrats and Republicans to give final votes to 14 of President Obama’s judicial nominees who were denied a vote last year and a White House meeting of community and legal leaders from around the country, Alliance for Justice President Nan Aron issued the following statement:
Today marked an important milestone in the fight to confirm President Obama’s nominees to the federal courts. With the nation’s judicial system suffering from the cumulative effects of over three years of relentless Republican obstruction, community leaders and advocates from around the country met with White House officials to lend renewed vigor to an effort to end the destructive pattern of procedural delays that have left nearly one in ten federal judgeships without a judge.
The deep sense of urgency conveyed by the participants is motivated by the fact that the Senate has confirmed far fewer nominees at this point in President Obama’s first term than it had for his two predecessors, and that current vacancies on the federal bench have actually risen by 43% since he took office. Frustration is growing in communities around the nation as understaffed courts face enormous backlogs and justice is frequently delayed for individuals and businesses whose lives and livelihoods often hang in the balance.
It is startling to realize that we are five months into the year and the Senate has yet to confirm a single nominee submitted by the president in 2012. The unprecedented level of partisan misbehavior in the Senate must end and today’s meeting reflects the unequivocal commitment of concerned citizens, national groups, and administration officials to push hard to ensure that every judicial nominee the president puts forward in 2012 gets a yes-or-no vote before the Senate adjourns this year.
The unequivocal message from today’s White House event was clear: our courts matter deeply to the future of our country and efforts to willfully stymie the confirmation of new judges do an enormous disservice to our democratic institutions.