Two More Confirmations This Week; Only 18 More to Go
Tuesday, two more federal district court judges, John Dowdell (Northern District of Oklahoma) and Jesus Bernal (Central District of California) were confirmed by the Senate. This follows on the heels of confirmation votes on four district court judges last week, and, potentially one or more votes this afternoon. Although some commentators have characterized these votes as progress, which I suppose it would be as a relative matter, it's important not to forget the Senate minority's blockade of confirmation votes in the months preceding the election: for example, Senate Minority Leader McConnell announced in mid-June that no more circuit court nominees would receive a vote until after the elections, and backed it up with a filibuster of the nominee to an Oklahoma seat on the 10th circuit in July. Further, Senate Republicans only allowed votes on three district court nominees in September. And it's not as though the votes were coming fast and furious before June.
The concerted refusal to allow votes on nominees with bipartisan support over these many months has resulted in a backlog of 18 nominees ready for a floor vote. That is reason enough to clear the decks before the end of the year, without even mentioning that there are still 77 vacancies on the federal bench. And it's hard to see these confirmations as meaningful progress when the Senate hasn't voted on any circuit court nominees, even those championed by Republican home-state senators in Oklahoma and Maine, since June. What would I call progress worthy of the name, then? Easy. Votes on all 18 remaining nominees.
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