It took some doing, but the Senate today apparently will finally confirm three
14 pending judgeship nominations, including that of Kris Baker of Little Rock for a vacancy for a federal judgeship for the Eastern District of Arkansas. She’s a lawyer with the Quattlebaum firm and had bipartisan support, but her confirmation had been hung up with dozens of others by a Republican blockade.
The votes scheduled today — a roll call is scheduled on Baker’s confirmation at 4:45 p.m., but she could be approved in a voice vote earlier — were the product of a deal with Republican leadership. But they don’t solve a crisis in judicial vacancies. (Baker made the cut in part because the district she’ll represent is one of several declared in an emergency situation because of caseload.)
A coalition of 29 generally progressive organizations today issued a statement saying the expected vote was not enough. It said, in part, prior to the vote:
Recent cases demonstrate that no matter the issue – health care, immigration, marriage equality, workers’ rights, employment discrimination, environmental regulation, privacy, and ethics – the courts will continue to play an increasingly important role in the lives of hardworking Americans. But the courts can’t function without judges. Unprecedented obstruction by a minority in the Senate has left the nation with 96 current and future vacancies on the federal courts, leading to a substantial backlog of cases that undermines our system of justice and makes it impossible for most Americans to have their case heard in a timely manner.
It’s troubling to realize that, more than four months into 2012, the Senate has voted only on nominees who were pending on the Senate floor last year and eligible for a confirmation vote in 2011. Today, in fact, marks the first time this year that the Senate is scheduled to vote on nominees who were not pending in 2011.
The president’s picks have met unprecedented resistance from the opposition party.
UPDATE: The Senate ran behind the predicted schedule. At 5 p.m., a roll call was still in progress on an appellate court nominee. But at 5:25 p.m., Baker’s nomination was confirmed by a voice vote. PS — It is a sad day when a qualified, non controversial nominee. — endorsed even by Dr. No Boozman — is this hard to get done.