No thanks to Senate Republican obstructionists, Democratic-appointed judges begin to take their place in the federal judiciary
It seems to me just a matter of time before those polls showing voters ready to punish Republicans for the antics of their farthest-right cohort start to fade. Even the Teabaggers are likely to be let off the hook, but it's not going to be that long before we're hearing that only the unabashed nutjobs, the certified far-right crazies, are to be held accountable for turning the functioning of our government into a pirate-themed carnival.
So it seems to me all the more important to get out the word that the modern-day Republican Party is hooliganish, mentally defective garbage, and that anyone who considers voting for one of these creatures should be indicted for aiding and abetting. Case in point: the aspect of the Republicans' monolithic Just Say No to Obama policy which pertains to presidential appointments, in particular judgeships -- after all those years of whining, when Chimpy the Then-Prez was sending fistfuls of judicial nominations of people who at mininmum should have been in institutional care, that the vile Democrats had a solemn obligation to permit an up-or-down vote. Of course it all makes sense when you remember that modern-day Republicans believe that they have been granted the right to lie every time they open their toxic traps.
Now, of course, as the president has ramped up his nominating process, there's an especially large contingent of nominees facing the annual holiday blight, as our "In the Loop" pal Al Kamen reports:
What is that creaking sound? Ah, yes. That's the window starting to close on folks still hoping to put on those black robes before the Senate takes off for the holidays in December.There's more than holiday cheer standing between those nominees and confirmation, though.
The good news is that, if you're one of the nine nominees -- seven for district judgeships, two for appeals courts -- who have already reached the Senate floor, you've got a decent shot at confirmation before the Senate recess. That's especially true for the seven who got unanimous votes in committee.
An additional 10 nominees have had hearings and are awaiting only a committee vote to get to the full Senate, which should happen by early next month. That's plenty of time to make it to the floor.
The Senate Judiciary Committee, which usually takes up three or four district judgeships and one appellate judgeship at each hearing, may have time to approve as many as 27 more nominees to go to the full body, for a total of 46.
But here's where it gets tricky. Controversial nominees, meaning those approved by the committee largely with Democratic support, will have a tough time getting through in the rush to adjourn.
Even those with substantial GOP support may have trouble getting pushed through in the Senate's traditional end-of-the-year wrap-up.Surprisingly, Al reports, the federal judiciary had begun to take on an Obama tinge.
That's because the wrap-up tradition appears to have fallen victim to the increasingly bitter partisanship on the Hill. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) has previously noted that the GOP left 17 noncontroversial judicial wannabes on the floor in 2010 and 18 in 2011. The nasty fights over the shutdown and the debt ceiling aren't likely to have done much for comity.
A new report by the liberal Alliance for Justice finds that as of Sept. 25, President Obama, after an extraordinarily slow start, has moved way ahead of George W. Bush on nominations. Obama has made 271 nominations, compared with 240 for Bush II at this point in his presidency. . . .It remains true that "only 75 percent of Obama's nominees have been confirmed, compared with 90 percent for Bush," and "at this point, Bush had put 215 judges on the bench, while Obama has put on 203."
At this point, Democrats have edged ahead in the number of appointees on the 179-member U.S. courts of appeals, the report found. The percentage of Republican-appointed appeals judges -- 61.3 percent when Bush II left office -- has dropped to 49.4 percent, the report found. Republicans maintain a thin lead of 50.3 percent of the nation's 678 federal district judges.
The process of choosing judicial nominees who can survive the Republican grinder is probably responsible for a depressing fail on the president's part. We know how shrewd Republican presidents have become about appointing the youngest candidates they can find, provided they can nevertheless show sufficiently sociopathic credentials. By contrast,
In the first term, Obama deftly improved on the Democrats' policy of minimizing their impact on the federal judiciary by appointing the oldest judges ever, going back to the Jimmy Carter administration, the report found. Obama's confirmed appeals judges are on average nearly four years older than Bush II's and 4.7 years older than George H.W. Bush's. (The average age of more recent nominees, however, is significantly lower.)