Monday, September 13, 2010
Prioritizing Judicial Vacancies
A number of commentators have written about President Obama’s poor success in filling vacancies in the federal courts.
As to appellate judges, there still were MORE judges confirmed with a Republican President and Democratic (if barely) Senate. And, this with Obama doing more to reach out to the other side, a side that is smaller. This seems to me at least somewhat of a lost opportunity.
Him confirming two justices is of limited appeal in a fashion because realistically you cannot hold up a justice to the degree you can for the others. And, one of these was Kagan, which replaced Stevens with a compromise choice. This to some of us left something to be desired.
Your concern about district court judges is a sound one all the same. The importance of district court judges and their factfinding role alone has been shown of late.
Although she doesn't explicitly say so, my impression was that Lithwick meant Obama has had fewer judges confirmed than any president since Nixon at the same point in his presidency. The other reading would be transparently silly.
"Right now, there are only 29 pending nominations for district court judgeships. Half of those have been pending only since May of this year."
A point made by Patterico: It takes time to get a nominee confirmed. If you start out slow at nominating judges, (And nobody denies Obama did.) and then play catchup, your confirmation numbers are going to look bad, simply because you've got a lot of judges in the pipeline who haven't had TIME to be confirmed.
I'd say the Obama lesson on judges is, if you want confirmations, you have to make nominations.
Obama's priorities respecting nominating judges is partially the issue but it is not "simply" the issue. And, few people deny that either.
"So let’s look at the actual numbers. . . . Obama has also placed two justices on the Supreme Court. George W. Bush secured appointments of two Supreme Court justices but not until his second term in office. I don’t know how many circuit court judges a Supreme Court justice is worth . . . ."
At this point in your commentary, Mr. Mazzone, I cannot take you seriously. Ignoring the huge differences in openings, process, and attention surrounding Supreme Court appointments demonstrates you are not actually serious about evaluating whether this congress has been processing appellate and district court appointments in a timely fashion.
The commentary recommends that in order to fill more district court seats, the Senate should ignore the circuit court vacancies. This assumes that the failures of the Senate are due to a lack time or resources, not a willingness to cooperating in evaluating and voting on appointments.
I don't think there is any basis for making this assumption. Certainly none in this commentary or the next.
I'm somewhat more willing to take the him seriously, but to be blunt, I share some of mm's concerns. There is a certain lack of reality to some of the analysis. If the pig in the room isn't going to be faced, cleaning up the mess is that much harder. And, less serious.
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