Blame the Dems for blocking judges
President Obama’s timing could have been better. Only two weeks ago in Texas, at a fundraiser, he bragged about “remaking the courts.”
Obama told the audience: “In addition to the Supreme Court, we’ve been able to nominate and confirm judges of extraordinary quality all across the country on federal benches. We’re actually, when it comes to the district court, matching the pace of previous presidents. When it comes to the appellate court, we’re just a little bit behind, and we’re just going to keep on focused on it.”
This was quite a change from June, when he accused Republicans of “cynically” engaging in “unprecedented” obstruction of judicial nominations. The president made those charges when he nominated three judges to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia: Patricia Millett, Cornelia Pillard and Robert Wilkins.
With Republicans filibustering these nominations over the last three weeks, Democrats are now threatening to deploy the “nuclear option” — in effect, ending the ability of senators to filibuster court nominations. On Monday, after the vote to break the filibuster on Wilkins failed, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) warned: “The talk about changing the cloture rules for judicial nominations will no longer be just talk. There will be action.”
But this is all political rhetoric; the complaints are exaggerated. In fact, George W. Bush suffered stiffer resistance and longer delays for his nominees than Obama. Bush’s nominees to the DC Circuit faced confirmations dragging on for 707 days on average, with one particular nomination (Brett Kavanaugh) dragging on past 1,000 days.
By contrast, Patricia Millett was nominated on June 4 this year and obtained a vote by the Senate just 149 days later, on Oct. 31; Pillard, 161 days; Wilkins, 167 days; and Caitlin Halligan, 433 days. Earlier this year, the Senate confirmed Obama’s nomination of Sri Srinivasan for the DC Circuit after a 346-day wait...