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Senator Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyNSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle McConnell to Dems: Don't hold government 'hostage' over DACA Nielsen acknowledges Trump used 'tough language' in immigration meeting MORE (D-Vt.), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has expeditiously scheduled panel hearings and votes, forwarding nominees to the floor where many languished. For example, in early August, the Senate recessed without considering 22 excellent nominees whom the committee approved because the GOP would not vote.

Republicans must cooperate better. The essential bottleneck is the floor. Republican Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants NSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Overnight Finance: Lawmakers see shutdown odds rising | Trump calls for looser rules for bank loans | Consumer bureau moves to revise payday lending rule | Trump warns China on trade deficit MORE (Ky.) has infrequently entered accords to vote. The unanimous consent procedure, which permits a lone senator to stop ballots, has delayed many nominees. Most problematic has been GOP unwillingness to consider excellent consensus nominees, inactivity that contravenes Senate customs. When senators have voted, they easily confirmed many nominees like Lorna Schofield, who earned 91-0 appointment in December.

The 18 circuit openings are essential because the courts are the tribunals of last resort in 99 percent of appeals. Obama has tapped eleven superb nominees. They include Magistrate Judge Robert Bacharach whom Obama recommended for a June 2010 Tenth Circuit vacancy.  He should keep cooperating with Leahy and Democratic Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidDems search for winning playbook Dems face hard choice for State of the Union response The Memo: Immigration battle tests activists’ muscle MORE (Nev.), who arranges floor votes, and their Republican analogues to smooth evaluation while nominating strong candidates for the seven remaining openings. Two comprise Tenth Circuit vacancies that arose when Judge Murphy assumed senior status on December 31, 2012 and Judge Deanell Tacha resigned in January 2011.

In January 2012, Obama nominated Bacharach, who secured the best ABA rating: well qualified. During May, the panel accorded him a smooth hearing and on June 7, reported Bacharach by voice vote with Senator Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeNSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle With religious liberty memo, Trump made America free to be faithful again This week: Time running out for Congress to avoid shutdown MORE (R-Utah) voting no to protest Obama’s January Executive recess appointments. Six days later, Republican Leader McConnell invoked the “Thurmond Rule,” opposing every Obama appellate nominee until after the November elections. Notwithstanding Obama’s reelection and Democrats’ enhanced Senate majority and strong pleas for post-election votes on these nominees from Senator Leahy and the nominees’ Republican and Democratic home state senators, the GOP refused to vote and the 112th Senate adjourned on January 1 without considering the nominees, whose nominations expired. Therefore, on January 3, Obama renominated all seven nominees, including Judge Bacharach. Because the jurist is a highly qualified consensus nominee, the committee speedily reapproved him last Thursday and senators should grant Bacharach an immediate floor vote.

For its part, the administration must expeditiously nominate outstanding candidates for the Murphy and Tacha openings. Obama ought to swiftly pursue the advice and support of Utah Republican Senators Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchKoch groups: Don't renew expired tax breaks in government funding bill Hatch tweets link to 'invisible' glasses after getting spotted removing pair that wasn't there DHS giving ‘active defense’ cyber tools to private sector, secretary says MORE and Lee and quickly nominate a fine prospect for Judge Murphy’s post. Obama did promptly nominate Steve Six, whom the ABA rated unanimously well qualified, to Judge Tacha’s Kansas seat in March 2011. Six ably fielded sharp questions at his May hearing. However, Kansas GOP Senators Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsGOP senators eager for Romney to join them Canada tamps down worries about US NAFTA withdrawal Canada worried Trump will withdraw from NAFTA: report MORE and Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranDoug Jones to become only Dem senator with black chief of staff Congress should stand for rural America by enhancing broadband connectivity Immigrant entrepreneurs are vital to American prosperity MORE announced their opposition to Six before the panel could vote, and his nomination expired. Thus, Obama must expeditiously consult the Kansas senators and speedily nominate a strong candidate.      

Because openings in ten percent of circuit judgeships and in one quarter of Tenth Circuit positions can undermine justice, President Obama must rapidly nominate, and the Senate speedily consider, exceptional nominees for the appellate vacancies.

Tobias is the Williams Chair in Law at the University of Richmond.