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Since the recess appointments President Obama made to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and National Labor Relations Board, Senate Republicans have been even more determined, if possible, to obstruct and to prevent any Obama nominee be confirmed. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has decided to force the issue, and on Monday filed for cloture on 17 district court judicial nominations, with votes coming as early as Wednesday.

None of the judges are controversial. Out of the 17, 14 were referred out of the Judiciary Committee unanimously, and none of them have been singled out by Republicans as too controversial to confirm. They are being held hostage for the sole purpose of hostage-taking, of sucking up the small amount of time the Senate actually uses on the business of the nation. This time, however, Reid has a bit of leverage.

Reid pulled procedural levers Monday to force action on 17 stalled, non-controversial judicial nominees to federal trial courts—just as the Senate was expected to take up the House-passed JOBS Act, a modest GOP-led bill to encourage economic growth by loosening regulations on small business capital formation.

That presents Republicans with a conundrum: proceed with the promised filibusters and eat up weeks of floor time while the JOBS Act sits in limbo; or accede to Reid’s demands and hand Democrats a win—and a bunch of federal judges.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated in a floor speech Tuesday he has no intention of letting the nominees be confirmed and blamed Democrats for trying to gum up the works on the small business JOBS Act.

If McConnell says that no nominees will be confirmed, then it's a good bet no nominees will be confirmed. The nation's judicial crisis will worsen. Here are some details on judicial nominations in the Obama administration provided by a Senate Democratic aide.
  • Obama's judicial nominees are now waiting an average of four times longer than Bush's nominees just to reach a vote in the Senate, creating a historic vacancy crisis in the federal courts.
  • Under Obama, the average wait has been 93 days for a nominee to be confirmed. (At this point in Bush’s presidency, the average district court nominee waited just 22 days after committee approval for a vote from the full Senate.)
  • During the Obama presidency “judicial emergencies” declared by the U.S. Courts have soared from 20 to 35 and the vacancy rate has been kept at an all-time high.
  • 160 million Americans live in districts or circuits with at least one judicial vacancy.

Beyond all that, no district court nominee has ever been successfully blocked by a filibuster—if Republicans deny cloture on these nominees, they'll be setting a new and dangerous standard. As if their new filibuster record wasn't enough.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Tue Mar 13, 2012 at 03:46 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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