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President Barack Obama delivers a statement announcing the nomination of three candidates for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, in the Rose Garden of the White House, June 4, 2013. Nominees from left are: Robert Leon Wilkins,
Well, that didn't take long. Once the Senate had taken the vote to break the filibuster on presidential nominations, the nomination of Patricia Millett was brought back up, and finally advanced with a 55-43 vote so that she can get her final, up-or-down vote.

There are two more for the D.C. Circuit ready to go: Nina Pillard and Robert Wilkins have both been filibustered in the past few weeks, and their nominations are ready to bring back for the shiny, new simple-majority cloture vote. But there are oh-so-many more vacancies. In fact, there are 93 vacancies right now in federal courts and 51 of them have a nominee selected by President Obama right now, leaving 42 blanks that the President Obama needs to fill. Beyond that, an additional 18 have announced they are planning on vacating their seats in the near future.

There's also a very real crisis in the judiciary right now: 195 million people, 60 percent of the population, live in a state with at least one federal court vacancy. What this means is justice really, really delayed for 60 percent of the population. In some of these cases, it's because Senate Republicans are boycotting the "advice" part of their advice and consent constitutional job. They're refusing to work with Obama to identify candidates. But another huge part of it is that the administration has not made finding nominees a huge priority. There are good reasons for that, starting with inevitable Republican obstruction.

But there are better reasons for making this a top priority for Obama in his last three years, particularly next year. With the current House, and the continued existence of the legislative filibuster in the Senate, he's not going to see his legislative priorities advance. He might as well be focusing now on filling all these vacancies, now that they've got a guaranteed path to confirmation. Of course, that means the Senate also needs to get to work on the 51 nominations they've got before them. But now that they won't be wasting at least 30 hours with every nominee, they should have plenty of time to work through them.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 12:11 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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