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Mitch McConnell
Mitch McConnell
For the first time ever, an appeals court nominee with bipartisan Judicial Committee support was blocked by Senate Republicans, urged on by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. His reason? He says he's honoring past Senate tradition of not approving judges so close to a presidential election. Because McConnell, the guy who has set numerous records for obstruction, cares so much about Senate tradition.

The 56-34-3 vote reflected the unprecedented nature of this filibuster. Oklahoma Republican Sens. Tom Coburn and James Inhofe supported the nomination of Robert Bacharach to be a U.S. circuit judge for the Tenth Circuit court in Oklahoma. They didn't want to vote against party leadership, or the judge, so they voted present, and allowed an unprecedented filibuster.

The White House fired off this statement after the vote.

[...] The American people deserve better than this unprecedented partisan obstruction of the President’s efforts to ensure a fair and functioning judiciary.

Nearly one in eleven federal judgeships stands empty. The judicial vacancy rate has never been this high for this long. Currently there are 20 judicial nominees waiting for consideration by the Senate, half of whom would fill vacancies deemed judicial emergencies. Almost all of these nominees have the support of the majority of Committee Republicans, and nine are supported by their Republican home-state Senators. These nominees should be confirmed immediately.

Upgrade the Senate bug

There are 20 nominations waiting floor action, but there are 76 vacant federal judgeships and 32 of those vacancies are called judicial emergencies because of the tremendous backlog of cases they've created. Those nominations will languish, with McConnell hiding behind the excuse of Senate tradition, while at the same time blowing Senate tradition to smithereens with his obstruction.

Majority Leader Harry Reid says he's ready for Senate reform. We need to make sure there are enough progressive Democratic senators in his caucus to hold his feet to the fire and make it happen.

Let's upgrade the Senate with progressive senators who promise to push for filibuster reform. Send $1 to each of the candidates on Act Blue.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 08:08 AM PDT.

Also republished by The Federation and Daily Kos.

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