2012-01-04 / Commentary

Lacking in judgment


When the Senate left Washington for its holiday recess, it also left a stack of pending judicial nominations so large it amounts to dereliction of duty.

Right now, the federal bench has roughly 80 vacancies. More than a quarter of them could be filled with nominees who already have been cleared by the Judiciary Committee — most with little or no opposition — but have yet to receive a confirmation vote by the full Senate.

You can blame calculated, partisan politics.

As Richard Cordray can attest, Republicans have blocked qualified nominees of all sorts — a practice that is unlikely to change in an election year.

GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell pointedly pulled the plug on pre-holiday confirmation votes because, he said, the White House refused to promise not to make recess appointments — short-term selections made while the Senate is on vacation, to avoid the confirmation process.

Even worse, this fall has seen the return of party-line filibusters on judicial nominations — a practice out of favor since the bipartisan Gang of 14’s 2005 intervention; at the time, it was minority Democrats thwarting the will of a Republican president and Senate majority.

Republicans ought to think twice about using tactics that could easily bite them in the future.

Preventing government from doing its work because key jobs remain unfilled is not what the majority of voters expect or want from either party.

— The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer

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