by Rachel Peck, Fellow,
National Women's Law Center
While we are still celebrating Elena Kagan's confirmation as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, another milestone occurred last week that we are less happy about. Last Friday marked the one-year anniversary of two of President Obama's federal judicial nominations: Jane Stranch, to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and Ed Chen, to the Northern District of California.
So much has happened over the last year—health care reform was passed, Spain won the World Cup tournament, 4.1 million barrels of oil spilled in the Gulf, the movie Avatar was released after 10 years in development—but after 365 long days, these two nominees are still waiting for a Senate vote. And these two nominees unfortunately have plenty of company. Although four judges were confirmed last night before the Senate went into recess and an agreement was reached to give Jane Stranch a vote when the Senate comes back in September, 20 other nominees are still waiting for a vote. To add insult to injury, Republicans insisted that the White House renominate Ed Chen, along with a number of others (including Professor Goodwin Liu, nominated to the Ninth Circuit). This means that the Judiciary Committee needs to take another vote, and creates the potential for more pointless delays.
Right now there are more than 100 vacancies in the federal judiciary, and more than 40 of these vacancies are considered judicial emergencies. We can't allow this delay to occur anymore. Citizens are being forced to wait for justice while Senators try to score political points. We urge the Senate to take action on the 19 pending nominees in September—so that we do not have to "celebrate" any more one-year anniversaries.