IF SESSIONS WANTS TO COMPARE, WE CAN COMPARE…. Yesterday, Senate Democrats tried to win confirmation for 20 pending judicial nominees, nearly all of whom enjoyed bipartisan support at the committee level, and all of whom have run into needless Republican obstructionism. How many of the 20 were approved yesterday? None — Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) blocked all of them.
“President Obama’s nominees are moving considerably faster … than President Bush’s nominees,” the right-wing Alabaman said on the floor. Senate Dems put together this fact-checking video, which makes plain that Sessions either doesn’t know what he’s talking about, or he’s deliberately trying to deceive, hoping those listening don’t know the difference between fact and fiction.
The White House has faced some criticism, much of it deserved, for not being more aggressive in sending judicial nominees for consideration. But it’s certainly not the administration’s fault that the Senate confirmation process is effectively broken, with Republicans using filibusters and holds to block votes on qualified would-be jurists.
The Center for American Progress released a report this morning, and the results are both striking and irrefutable. Even district court nominees, whose confirmations used to be routine, are being blocked in record numbers, thanks to Republican tactics that have never even been tried in the Senate.
From the report: “Such tactics are completely unprecedented, and so are their results. Fewer than 43 percent of President Obama’s judicial nominees have so far been confirmed, while past presidents have enjoyed confirmation rates as high as 93 percent. And President Obama’s nominees have been confirmed at a much slower rate than those of his predecessor — nearly 87 percent of President George W. Bush’s judicial nominees were confirmed.”
The report added, “It is easy to manipulate the Senate rules to create a crisis. If a minority of senators broadly object to the Senate’s entire agenda, then it is literally impossible to confirm more than a fraction of the hundreds of judges, executive branch officials, ambassadors, and other nominees that each president has a responsibility to appoint, even if the Senate shuts down all other legislative business to do so.”
This political paralysis is unsustainable, and it’s going to get even worse if the Senate Republican caucus grows in the next Congress, as seems extremely likely.
It’s ridiculous to think of a judiciary filled with recess appointments, but it may come to that.