Political Editors / July 2, 2018

Judiciary in Crisis With 17% Vacancies

Democrats continue obstructing Trump and the judicial confirmation process.

A year and a half year into Donald Trump’s presidency, nearly one-sixth of federal court seats are still lacking judges — a total of 153 vacancies. Some of the positions have been vacant for so long that it has entered the category of “judicial emergencies,” meaning other judicial caseloads are so overloaded that those cases are no longer handled properly. The situation has become so bad that the only appropriate word to describe it is “crisis,” a term Senate Democrats used once upon a time when the number of vacancies reached just 68. And the situation will only become worse, as 32 more vacancies are set to occur soon, increasing the overall percentage of unoccupied benches to more than 20%.

So where does the fault lie for this judicial crisis? Don’t look at Trump, who has nominated 134 men and women to the bench over the last 18 months — more than any other recent president. Don’t blame Senate Republicans either, as Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has held 97 hearings thus far, which is far more than the average of 62 hearings for nominees of the previous six presidents at this point. In other words, Grassley’s pace is more than 50% higher than for former administrations.

The fault lies primarily with Senate Democrats and their commitment to slowing down the nomination process as much as possible. Even though the minority no longer can filibuster, Democrats have used other procedural games to stymie the process. As The Daily Signal reports, “One tactic is to force the Senate to take multiple votes on each nomination. It takes the same number of votes to end debate as it does to confirm a nomination now, so the only reason for multiple votes is to drag out the process. Senate Democrats have forced the Senate to take these unnecessary votes to end debate on 40 of Trump’s judicial nominations. That compares to two votes, at this point, for the previous 12 new presidents combined.”

Clearly, Democrats are stalling as long as possible with the hope of retaking the Senate come November. Then they can really derail any attempt by Trump to seat solid constitutional conservative judges. By playing this political game, Democrats reveal that they have little concern for ensuring that the needs of the American people are met with timely access to good judges. Why play ball when they can #Resist?


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