Last week I commented about the Senate’s failure to deal expeditiously (and in nonpartisan good faith) with President Obama’s judicial nominations. A report by the Alliance for Justice and an op-ed today by Attorney General Holder underscores the problem, concluding that we have a state of judicial emergency in the country as a result of the pace of nominations and confirmations.
“Judicial emergency” is defined by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts
as a vacancy leaving excessive numbers of filings per judgeship, and putting
current judicial work in crisis. The recent AFJ report points out there are 48
judicial emergencies in the federal courts; 10 in the circuit (appellate)
courts; 38 in the district (trial) courts. Workloads for sitting judges are up
by 400 percent, slowing dispositions and frustrating the administration of
justice. President Obama has appointed judges to seven of the 10 appeals court
openings and 18 of the 38 trial court openings.
The administration must fill all openings, and the Senate must act on all nominations. Eleven appointees are awaiting confirmation, having been approved by the Judiciary Committee. And the president has not appointed judges for some of the vacancies. That process includes the Department of Justice, which works with the White House in selecting appointees.
The executive and legislative branches of government have been delinquent in their constitutional duties to assure the integrity of the third branch. Inefficiency by the executive branch and partisanship by the legislative branch have frustrated the proper workings of our judiciary. Little wonder the public is cynical about the workings of our government.