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The Alliance for Justice has an important reminder to the Senate as they start gearing up for lame duck.

Unprecedented Republican tactics of procedural obstruction have left 23 Obama nominees languishing on the Senate floor, 17 of whom were reported out of the Judiciary Committee without Republican opposition.  Meanwhile, while the Senate dithers, the Administrative Office of the Courts has declared “judicial emergencies” in 50 federal courts, affecting 30 states, meaning there aren’t enough judges to adequately serve the needs of justice....

Though these nominees have been awaiting votes for far too long, lame-duck sessions have frequently been an occasion when judicial nominees are approved. For instance, during the 2002 lame-duck session in a closely split Senate, President George W. Bush had 20 nominees confirmed, all but one on a voice vote, including controversial circuit court nominee Michael McConnell.

Right after the Senate recessed, President Obama sent a letter to the two Senate Leaders and the Chair and Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee blasting Republicans for their obstruction of these nominees. Given the outcome of the elections, the GOP might not be inclined to do anything Obama asks of them, but allowing at the very least those 17 nominees which passed out of Judiciary without opposition shouldn't be too painful. Justice is grinding to a halt throughout the country because of these judicial vacancies--"the average litigant waits more than nine months for a decision in federal court, and they can wait years for justice if the case is appealed or requires a full trial."

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Tue Nov 09, 2010 at 06:02 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Obama won't do it (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    he is still thinking bi-partisanship will work.  ridiculous.

    The Seminole Democrat
    A blue voice calling from the deep red

    by SemDem on Tue Nov 09, 2010 at 06:05:30 AM PST

  •  Recess appointments (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cybersaur, divineorder

    Not using this remedy amounts to executive malpractice.  It's part of the job.

  •  They are not going to do anything of the sort (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sherlyle, Califlander, squarewheel, wvmom

    They will just sit on the nominees and run out the clock

    Slow thinkers - keep right

    by Dave the Wave on Tue Nov 09, 2010 at 06:06:34 AM PST

  •  Yabbut (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Califlander, divineorder

    When Bush did it, that was a Republican president trying to confirm Republican-appointed nominees. So, that's not the same thing. It's not OK now. Yeesh.

    •  Bush (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      david78209, VClib

      appointed , I believe, TWO federal judges via recess appointments (Pryor in the 11th Circuit, Pickering in the 5th).  I think Clinton only appointed one via recess appointment -- Gregory in the 4th Circuit (who was later confirmed by the Senate).  

      There have been about a half-dozen recess appointments of federal judges in the last fifty years.  The wholesale appointments being proposed here would be unprecedented.

  •  Actually, kill the filibuster first. THEN... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sherlyle, divineorder

    ...approve the appointments.

    •  The filibuster is now our friend. What if three (0+ / 0-)

      Democrats decide to leave the Senate and go on spiritual journeys in the next two years? How would we feel about a pure majority vote rule in the Senate then?

      •  Still got the veto. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        •  Sure we'll have the veto in 2013? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          And what good does being able to pass a bill by a majority vote in the Senate do if we're down by a wide margin in the House?

          Really, I think it's way, way more likely that Boehner can persuade Obama to back a mildly conservative Republican bill, and get a few Democrats to vote for the bill in the Senate, than it is for the Democrats to get anything through the House.

          •  No. But the filkibuster is an inherent evil. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            True North, laker, supercereal

            That should go. The American people deserve a functioning democracy.

            •  We deserve to have broad support for big change (0+ / 0-)

              Many folks here dislike the filibuster because they want to be able to change the country in major ways with winning over a lot of moderates and moderately conservative people.

              I think, to some extent, people here really want to avoid letting anyone to the right of Ben Nelson support us on anything. It's as if their support would give us Republican germs.

              But I think the lack of ability to get bipartisan support for a bill is a huge warning sign.

              Obama, Pelosi, Reid, etc. did what they have to do with the health bill and the banking bill, and I'm glad they got the bills through, but think how much more stable and safe those bills would be if we had warm, open support from 10 Republicans, and the voters who'd sent those Republicans to Washington.

              And someone could say, "It's not 1975; you can't find those 10 Republicans." That's probably be true, but it's bad for democracy. We have to do what we can to try to nurture moderate Republicans and keep them in the gain. We need to have people out there who can be a bridge between us and the opposition.

              And, yes, there are a lot of people here who hate political bridges. You're fiery, take-no-bridges populist bridge burners. The people who wrote the Constitution did their best to control that sort of thing.

      •  We woud feel... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Zinman, reddbierd, laker, supercereal

        like we actually have to go out and win elections, rather than depending on the anachronism of the filibuster, which we'll most certainly lose if we do lose the majority.

        And how likely are we to avoid losing the majority if all we do with that majority for the next two years is react to what the Republican House passes, and offer no alternatives to it?

        •  And abortion might be illegal, being openly GLBT (0+ / 0-)

          might be illegal in society as well as the military, some of the civil rights laws might go away, affirmative action might be completely illegal, Social Security might be completely privatized, Medicare might simply be shut down, and, really, if the current crop of Republicans really controlled the White House, a great many state houses, and both branches of Congress, with no filibuster mechanism, how do we know they wouldn't simply ratify a constitutional amendment that effectively shuts down the Democratic Party?

          And, if the Republicans got that much power, we'd probably suddenly see divisions appear in the party. Normal, sane Republicans would do their best to control the crazies and might well succeed. But I trust the filibuster more than I trust reasonable Republicans to be able to control the crazies without the help of the filibuster.

          •  It might. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            So go fight.

            And a constitutional amendment has a filibuster built in, anyway. It takes 2/3 to approve one. You know that.

            If all that stuff -- which would fire up the Republican base to no end -- could happen without the filibuster in place, then I'll ask you how much you're betting on the filibuster's continuance as part of the Senate rules in a situation in which the current crop of Republicans controlled the White House and both branches of Congress.

            You're trying to preserve the "history" of some alternate universe.

    •  Killing the filibuster is coming, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      squarewheel, laker, supercereal

      I guarantee it will be the opening salvo of the Republican held Senate in 2013.

      The rest of the planet looks on in horror as US descends into another fresh round of Insani-Tea.

      by shpilk on Tue Nov 09, 2010 at 06:51:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think a plea to think of the justice system (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    To think of those defendents who aren't getting their day in court, those courts which are overwhelmed with cases, to implore them to realize how important the third branch of our government has to be, is the way to go.

    And then, either they'll behave well, and finally cooperate, or they won't, and we'll have that weapon to use against the jerks.

  •  A Sternly Worded Letter? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    accumbens, squarewheel

    heh heh heh.

    Wow, Independents put down the centrist Blue Dogs, and somehow liberals are to blame?

    by Ezekial 23 20 on Tue Nov 09, 2010 at 06:23:18 AM PST

  •  Maybe Obama should tell them he'll hold (0+ / 0-)

    his breath until he turns blue.  That might get them to move ... at least as well as his talk of bipartisanship does.

    The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell

    by accumbens on Tue Nov 09, 2010 at 06:23:21 AM PST

  •  When the law is used as a tool of subjugation, (0+ / 0-)

    justice is no longer an issue.  The rule of law is an implacable tyrant because, unlike a flesh and blood ruler whose whims must be obeyed, there's no point in deciding "off with his head."

    The "rule of law" is, like the nation, a marvelous invention--impersonal and implacable and unaccountable.  Where it used to be claimed, "the devil made me do it," it's now "the law" and due process that decides.

    Moreover, there are people who are convinced that if the process is properly followed, the result will be good.  They're mostly too young to remember that the national socialists were really good at following procedure and one population after another was deprived of its rights according to law.  The consent of the governed is all it takes to make their abuse legal.  You see, according to this thinking, what made involuntary servitude wrong was its involuntary nature.  If people can be persuaded to enslave themselves (or perhaps tricked?), then servitude is just fine.  That's how come our all volunteer military personnel can be deprived of all their rights.  After all, "they volunteered."

    The conservative mind relies mainly on what is plain to see.

    by hannah on Tue Nov 09, 2010 at 06:23:46 AM PST

  •  For any of you who cannot afford Cable right now. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    You can see a Three Ring Circus on the House Floor this coming January for FREE on C-Span.  

  •  How can you contradict yourself so bitihely (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ... and not even see you're doing it?

    ... allowing at the very least those 17 nominees which passed out of Judiciary without opposition shouldn't be too painful. Justice is grinding to a halt throughout the country because of these judicial vacancies ...

    Republicans want justice to grind to a halt throughout the country.  That's why relenting would "be too painful" for them -- it would mean undercutting their strategy for obtaining and wielding power.  And that's the only thing that matters to their Party.

  •  So Much For... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...Republicans insisting on and "up or down vote" for all judicial nominees.

  •  'stern letters' - gotta love them .. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    so, what's the chance that Senate Rules change in the next session?

    Anything other than a Big Fat Zero?

    Nothing will change.

    The Senate will continue to be a place of obstruction, and help seal the fate of Democrats in the 2012 cycle. The numbers for 2012 are horrendous: Democrats could lose 15 seats, and with the "leadership" of a Harry Reid, I think they might just do it.

    Imagine, a Senate with 38 Democrats in it.

    Imagine what the Republicans will do to the Senate Rules in 2013. Welcome to eternal Hell.

    The rest of the planet looks on in horror as US descends into another fresh round of Insani-Tea.

    by shpilk on Tue Nov 09, 2010 at 06:46:36 AM PST

  •  I don't mind requiring a supermajority to confirm (0+ / 0-)

    someone to a lifetime appointment.  (Are there any lifetime appointments in this country other than to the Federal bench?)
    It may be I think that way because Clarence Thomas was only approved 52-48.

    What's bad is that the filibuster stops everything from coming to a vote at all.  I'd prefer a process in which everyone nominated gets a prompt vote from the Senate, but has to get a supermajority of 60% or 67% or 75%.  I don't have a strong opinion on where to draw the line, but it ought to be above 50%.

    We're all pretty strange one way or another; some of us just hide it better. "Normal" is a dryer setting.

    by david78209 on Tue Nov 09, 2010 at 08:08:24 AM PST

  •  I have to think the GOP benefits from backlog. (0+ / 0-)

    For one, cases against corporations take longer, and those corporations are much more able to wait it out and eat the legal costs than any private citizens suing them.

    For another, it makes federal government look slow and incompetent- which the GOP blames on Obama. (Even though it's their fault.)*

    And finally, when they manage to get the White House again (heaven forbid) you know they'll ram through croneys and corporatists to fill the empty positions, and the Democrats will let them, because they backlog will have far surpassed the crisis point.
    ----- * Gotta love the anti-big government party turning their platform that government is incompetent into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    -this space for rent-

    by EsnRedshirt on Tue Nov 09, 2010 at 08:33:54 AM PST

  •  Poor Record on Judicial Confirmations (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Obama has only had 30 federal district judges confirmed.  At this point in Clinton's presidency he had 107 confirmed and George W. Bush had 83.  This is just one example of how obstructionist the Republican Senators have been.  Harry Reid doesn't have to worry about re-election so he needs to use his power and force the remaining Obama judges through.  He only  needs 2 Republicans to come over and break a filibuster.  If Reid threatens to stay through Christmas until they are confirmed then 2 Republicans are likely to break.  

  •  This Is A Critical Issue (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AppleP, laker

    considering the difficulty of getting anything passed in the new Senate next year.  

    The Democrats have the numbers now to get most of these nominees through. I can see moderates like Snowe and Collins giving them the critical 60th vote to break filibusters. If they can't get these nominees through I think obama has to consider do recess appointments.

    We have to get these moderate to liberal judges on the courts.  Conservative judges and courts have given us some horrible rulings in recent years including the Citizens United ruling.

    •  With the way the House will be acting (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      my advice would be for the Senate to do only 2 things:  Get appointments passed and fix the budgets that are sent to it by the house.

      Which is good news for John McCain.

      by AppleP on Tue Nov 09, 2010 at 10:19:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  LOL...Probably A Good Idea (0+ / 0-)

        I was thinking on similiar lines right after the election. Nothing new of consequence will pass in the next two years so the Senate will basically be for stopping the horrible legislation sure to come from the GOP controlled House and making changes to the appropriations bills that originate from the House.

        I really think he needs to get these judges confirmed during this current Congress cause confirmation in the new lineup will be next to impossible.

  •  A news barrage on obstructionism... (0+ / 0-)

    that's what the Democrats and President Obama should do, a blitz. Take it to the news media, all day every day, telling the tale of delays in courts.

    Recess appointments are temporary, which is just what Republicans want: temporary terms for judicial appointments by a Democratic president. Don't give it to 'em.

    Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property. Corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person. -Jan Edwards

    by SoCalSal on Tue Nov 09, 2010 at 09:50:56 AM PST

  •  New rules for appointments (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    At the start of the new Congress as the Senate forms its rules I think they should agree on some rules for appointments and the Dems should agree that they would carry those over in the next Congress should the White House change hands. The rules should be whatever a consensus of Senators thinks is reasonable. In my view every Executive Branch appointment should have a committee hearing, and vote, within 90 days and an up or down vote before the full Senate within 30 days thereafter. For judicial appointments there should be a Judiciary Committee hearing, and vote, within 120 days and a full Senate up or down vote within 30 days thereafter. You can move the dates by a month or so in either direction, but there should be a finite date where people are approved or voted down so they can move on in life and the President can have his people in place.

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Tue Nov 09, 2010 at 11:18:13 AM PST

  •  I wonder if it was a Republican (0+ / 0-)

    strategy to delay these to use as leverage and that's what Obama will get in return for extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich?  If so, that will show how weak Obama is. If Obama doesn't use the leverage he has, no one in Congress fears him and that's the only thing corrupt Congress critters respond to.  That and money. To get people to fear you, you have to carry through on threats and make people suffer consequences so they will think twice next time.  As Colbert says, you need to be a "formidable opponent."

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