Are Judicial Nominations Getting Any Better?

The good news is that the Senate is getting better at processing judicial nominations.

The bad news? It’s running out of nominations to process. Not because all the vacancies are filled. No, it’s because the promised increased pace of judicial nominations still hasn’t materialized.

There remain around 60 spots without any nominee, including 11 at the appellate level. And including three spots, still, on the DC Circuit. It’s true that some of this is the Senate’s fault, with (mostly) Republican Senators blocking home-state selections (and Democrats in the Senate supporting their ability to do so). Sure, Barack Obama isn’t technically bound by that, but it’s not unreasonable for him to choose to work things out rather than send up doomed nominees. But he hasn’t used public pressure to get things moving (and this might be a case where that might help). Nor has he, as far as we know, aggressively bargained to get things moving. And he doesn’t have any excuse for those DC Circuit spots.

We’ve been hearing all year that Obama is really going to do better this time. Maybe he will. All I can say is that there’s no evidence of it yet; there have only been a handful of new nominees so far this year, not enough to keep up with new vacancies

Let’s have some judicial nominees, please, Mr. President.

[Cross-posted at A plain blog about politics]

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Jonathan Bernstein

Jonathan Bernstein is a political scientist who writes about American politics, especially the presidency, Congress, parties, and elections.