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The Judicial Vacancy Problem


I have a new TAP piece about the unacceptably high vacancy rates on the federal courts. The best symbol of Republican obstructionism, to me, isn’t Liu. I believe he should have been confirmed, of course, but as someone who believes that the defeat of Robert Bork was one of the few things that could justify the existence of the Senate I can’t deny the other party the prerogative to vote down specific candidates, and while the filibuster is a terrible rule it’s a terrible rule across the board. The real symbol is Jane Stranch, who was held up for more than a year before being confirmed by a 50-vote margin. The biggest problem is just obstruction for the sake of obstruction, and this is a problem that has gotten much worse since 2008.

Having said that, there’s blame to go around for the declining rate of judicial appointments under Obama. Obama is nominating substantially fewer judges than Bush, and while this can’t be viewed in isolation from the increasing obstruction, he needs to be a lot more aggressive about getting nominees to the Senate.

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