There are currently four vacancies on the Fourth Circuit, more than any other circuit. The seat that Justice Keenan would fill has been vacant now for more than two years.
[N]ow, in the spirit of pragmatic bipartisanship and good governance, I believe it is time to move past procedural delays that seem to infect us and get on with the business of governing.
I would like to point out that out of 876 federal judgeships there are currently 100 vacancies. These vacancies delay the administration of justice, they delay the resolution of disputes, and they diminish our citizens’ right to a speedy trial.
It is my understanding that Justice Keenan has broad support in this body, the vote in the Judiciary Committee is evidence of that. In face I would be very surprised if any senator were to vote against her confirmation. Again, I am asking my colleagues across the aisle if they might allow this nomination to advance in a timely way.
Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., also published an op-ed piece last week, lamenting the slow pace of confirmations, particularly in regards to Thomas I. Vanaskie, a federal judge from Pennsylvania up for a seat on the 3rd Circuit.
Republican inaction on nominations is paralyzing the work of the Senate and putting the government’s ability to confront the nation’s challenges at risk.
We have seen much obstructionism by the minority in this Congress, but nothing compares to the gridlock on nominations. During President Obama’s first year, 46 executive nominees waited at least three months to be confirmed, 45 waited at least four months, and nine took six months or longer. Inaction on these qualified nominees, many in defense-related and national security posts, is unacceptable.
This applies to nominations for federal judgeships, many to important or long- vacant jurisdictions. Currently, 14 judicial nominees, who have been approved – in many cases unanimously – by the Senate Judiciary Committee are awaiting confirmation in the face of Republican objections, many of them specious or just plain outlandish. It is time to put partisan politics aside and work to fill these positions as quickly as possible.
Specter must not have gotten the GOP memo: Vanaskie passed out of committee on Dec. 3. In all likelihood, he won’t be confirmed before early April.