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October 01, 2016

ABA president urges Senate votes on judicial nominations

The ABA is continuing to urge Senate leaders to promptly schedule floor votes during the upcoming lame duck session on the federal judicial nominees pending on the Senate calendar.

The number of Article III judicial vacancies has ballooned from 45 at the beginning of the 114th Congress to more than 90, which represents more than a 10 percent vacancy rate.

“With over 10 percent of authorized judgeships now vacant, the prompt filling of vacancies is becoming a matter of increasing urgency,” ABA President Linda A. Klein wrote to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Harry Reid (D-Nev.) this fall. “This is especially true for vacancies that have existed for so long and created such untenable workloads for the remaining judges on the court that the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has declared them to be judicial emergencies,” she said.

Klein urged the Senate leaders to schedule floor votes on the district court nominees that were all found by the Senate Judiciary Committee to be fully qualified for life-time appointments and approved by the committee with overwhelmingly bipartisan support.

“As lawyers who practice in federal courts across this nation, ABA members know firsthand that long-standing vacancies on courts with high caseloads create strains that inevitably will reduce the quality of our justice system and, as importantly, deprive litigants of the opportunity to resolve their civil disputes in a timely matter.” She added that this has “real consequences for the financial well-being of businesses and for individuals who have to put their businesses and personal lives on hold while waiting for their day in court.”

Recognizing the time constraints under which the Senate will be operating for the remainder of this Congress, Klein urged that multiple confirmation votes be scheduled at a time. There is ample precedent for this, she said, pointing out that nine district court nominees were confirmed on October of the last year of the Reagan administration, four during October in the last year of the Clinton administration, and 10 in September in the last year of the George W. Bush administration.

Failure of the Senate to vote on pending nominees before adjournment of this Congress will waste taxpayer dollars and government resources, she said, explaining that once the 115th Congress convenes, the president and the Senate will have to begin the entire process again to fill the same vacancies.

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