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With talk of filibuster reform in the air again, there's been a renewed focus on the sorry state of the federal judiciary, including this Washington Post story from Robert Barnes.
There are more vacancies on the federal courts now than when Obama took office nearly four years ago. And he is the first president in generations to fail to put a nominee on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the second most influential court in the land and traditionally a training ground for Supreme Court justices. [...]

But, depending on what the Senate does in these final days, Obama’s record on the rest of the federal judiciary will show one more opening on the nation’s powerful 13 courts of appeal than when he took office, and more than a dozen additional vacant district court judgeships.

Barnes points out that President Obama has lagged in making nominations, which is true, but Senate foot-dragging is the major contributor: "The average time from nomination to confirmation for a Clinton district judge was about three months. That grew to 154 days for a Bush nominee [...] compared to 223 days for Obama’s choices."

Here's what the delays and footdragging on judicial nominations looks like in chart form:

Chart showing drastic increase in cloture votes required for judicial nominations in the two most recent Congresses.

Judicial nominations, of course, only tell a part of the obstruction story, but a key one. It's how Republicans have been working to make all three branches of government dysfunctional. According to the latest report from the Alliance for Justice, there are now 83 district and circuit court vacancies, and 34 of those vacancies are judicial emergencies.

This obstruction has to end, on nominations and on legislation, for the health of our democracy. For our government to function. The way to do it is with filibuster reform that will end the ease with which a single senator can grind the institution to a halt. If you haven't contacted your senators to urge them to support filibuster reform, please do.

Tell your senator to vote to make the filibuster a real, talking filibuster that requires affirmative votes to continue.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 11:09 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (27+ / 0-)

    "There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning." —Warren Buffett

    by Joan McCarter on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 11:09:48 AM PST

  •  Apparently the GOP (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bear83, a2nite

    in Congress are not so tough on criminals as we thought.

    Well not to the point of them having a trial anyway.

    I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
    but I fear we will remain Democrats.

    by twigg on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 11:13:41 AM PST

  •  Lets hope (0+ / 0-)

    That we can convince the reluctant Dems. to go along for a change. I have to say I am not optimistic.

    •  Filibuster reform is unfair (0+ / 0-)

      You see it goes like this...

      Republicans use filibuster all the time because Harry Reed doesn't allow amendments.  Like all the amendments that Republicans want to make to judicial nominees.  Wait.

      Oh.  Never mind.

  •  Tell your Senators to join mine (0+ / 0-)

    Merkley is working for change. The republicons are shutting everything down, and will continue to blame the democrats. It should be evident that filibuster reform is a matter of political survival to democratic Senators.

  •  Don't agree (0+ / 0-)

    court appontments are different.

    However, to the degree that rules for quick process on judicial appointments is the reform involved, then yes, it is evidence for that.

    If a judicial nominee is not going to be confirmed, we should know that fast - say in 3 months.

    Then PRez can nominate new person.

  •  As of today, there are 75 vacancies, (0+ / 0-)

    30 in courts with judicial emergencies. Nine of those courts have more than one vacancy, and CA-Northern has 4. Figures are updated daily (usually) at

    Judicial Vacancies

  •  Abolish the filibuster completely. (5+ / 0-)

    There is no doubt whatsoever the GOP will do so if and when it ever takes over the Senate so failing to do so constitutes nothing short of unilateral capitulation.

    •  Agree: abolish filibuster completely (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      schuylkill, Amber6541

      I don't understand the idea of perpetuating this anti-democratic practice in any form. Forget "talking filibuster" -- just get rid of it. The odd term bandied about in support of the filibuster has been the "tyranny of the majority." Real minority rights are protected by the Bill of Rights. In a legislative body, the alternative to "tyranny of the majority" is tyranny of the minority -- which I believe is   more commonly called, well, tyranny. Tyranny is what I call it at any rate when a small group of extremists can control the government. Why should we allow their intentional obstruction and destruction of basic  functioning of our government to continue?

      "Scrutinize the bill, it is you who must pay it...You must take over the leadership." - Brecht

      by pedestrian xing on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 03:44:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Democratic sabotage (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mightymouse, 84thProblem, Amber6541

    Now, Alexander Bolton is reporting in The Hill that we've got four Democratic Senators—Levin, Pryor, Cardin, and Schumer—teaming up with four Republicans to get 'bipartisan' support for alternative, watered-down 'reform'.

    I hope real reform gets done, but I'll be surprised if it does.

    The filibuster is a crime against democracy.

    by schuylkill on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 07:23:21 PM PST

  •  yes we do need filibuster reform, but I would also (5+ / 0-)

    like to see 100 recess appointments over the holidays, particularly as they are not getting their act together on the fiscal cliff either.

  •  Obama has also been very slow about nominating (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RUNDOWN, mike101

    people to the judiciary. He's been called out on this numerous times.

    "The two pioneering forces of modern sensibility are Jewish moral seriousness and homosexual aestheticism and irony." Susan Sontag

    by Shane Hensinger on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 07:47:59 PM PST

    •  it's not really "slow" (0+ / 0-)

      it's 11th-dimensional slowness. We probably just don't understand how it works

      •  Except other presidents have been much quicker (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mike101, DSPS owl

        on this issue, especially Bush. The process does not need to be as "deliberative" as the administration has made it. The original argument was that they were preoccupied with the financial crisis and everything which greeted their arrival in 2008. I guess that's an acceptable excuse except it stopped being viable after the first 90 days and it's worn completely thin now.

        "The two pioneering forces of modern sensibility are Jewish moral seriousness and homosexual aestheticism and irony." Susan Sontag

        by Shane Hensinger on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 08:01:19 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Quality not quantity? (0+ / 0-)
          other presidents have been much quicker on this issue, especially Bush.
          Yes, the process is much quicker when one has no qualms about appointing one's right wing cleaning lady to the Supreme Court.
      •  Perhaps the potential nominees have seen the (0+ / 0-)

        process that is now the norm, and choose not to participate.  I would sure think twice about agreeing to be nominated in the current Senate climate.

        Mother Teresa: "If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other."

        by Amber6541 on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 08:54:51 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  From tonight's readings: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mike101, 84thProblem
    Judging from the character of the Tea Party and the behavior of conventional Republican leaders, we can fully expect them to pursue an agenda far more rightwing than a simple promotion of the free market. Namely, we can foresee them pressing to continue the deliberate mismanagement and vandalism of the state that began under Reagan and intensified under George W. Bush, where the overarching principle is the promotion of the interests of the wealthiest layer of Americans.

    Three decades of degradation have left the state vulnerable to even more destructive measures now, with potentially dire consequences.

    To the American right, corruption is no longer a function of opportunism, where a few people find a way to enrich themselves. To so many leaders of the right and the business class, corruption has become programmatic, a corollary to their disdain for the state. They respond not to the government corruption and waste they have so magnified with shame, but with a simple dare to society: if you want it to stop, just reduce the state to starvation, so there will be nothing left to plunder.

    Our account of the right’s assault on the state is by no means complete. In particular, we have not detailed the cynical strategy of blowing up federal deficits so as to cripple social programs and preclude significant funding for any new initiatives designed to support the population or the environment.... It seems all too likely that the right’s assault on the state will continue, and that the movement has in mind to put social security, a primary function of the US state, to the sword. The stakes are high.

    Denial is a drug.

    by Pluto on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 08:12:58 PM PST

  •  Qui Tacet Consentire (7+ / 0-)

    While I agree that filibusters should require the filly or buster to stand on his or her hind legs and hold the floor, I believe Senate confirmation of presidential appointments requires a different rule.

    The Senate responsibility to advise and consent on appointments does not, in my view, give them the right to stop the process completely.  They can vote yes or no (uppordown vote), but I think if they take no action at all for some period, the nominee should be confirmed.

    This should work similarly to the rules for Presidential vetoes.  Provided that the Congress is in session, the President has ten working days to "return" the bill, meaning he must either sign it or veto it.  If he does neither, he is deemed to have consented.

    Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution says:

    If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the same shall be a Law, in like manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its return, in which case it shall not be a Law.
    Let the same rule apply to Presidential appointments.  The Senate should have ten working days after a nominee is presented by the President to confirm or reject the nomination, and if they do neither, that is, if they don't have the uppordown vote in that time, then the nominee should be confirmed.
  •  Republican interests: (5+ / 0-)

    Republicans are interested in proving government cannot function, if we elect or appoint Republicans they will provide us with a government that cannot function.

    It's fairly simple...they have repeatedly told us their plan.

    -- We are just regular people informed on issues

    by mike101 on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 09:08:42 PM PST

  •  What about the ATF (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Yes yes yes the judges must be confirmed but look at the ATF that has an interim acting director that is also the state atty. of Minnesota...

    Why is this a commuter position?

    Three hundred million guns in this country and we have an ATF that is gutted attacked and underutilized.

    It is no wonder the NRA has so much political power.

  •  Yes make them speak for days if they with to (0+ / 0-)

    oppose it that much.  Let's see these light weights play real talk to the American people instead of retreat behind a hold with ut a face.

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