Senate Republicans Are Breaking Records for Judicial Obstruction
There’s a growing judicial crisis created by Senate Republicans, and it’s not the one that’s been making headlines. While Democrats have publicly hammered the GOP’s refusal to consider Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court, Republicans have mounted an equally important, if quieter, effort to block President Barack Obama’s nominees to other federal courts, creating widespread vacancies in courts across the country.
As a presidential election nears, it’s not unusual for the party opposing the president to slow the pace of judicial confirmations. There’s even a term for it: the Thurmond Rule, named for the late Sen. Strom Thurmond, who blocked election-year appointees from Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Carter. (It’s far from an iron-clad rule, though. Past Congresses have confirmed many presidents’ late-term appointees.) But the current Republican leadership has taken this pattern to an unprecedented level. From the moment Republicans won the Senate majority in 2014, they’ve put a halt to the judicial confirmation process. As a result, the backlog is far greater than in past presidential election years, making it likely that dozens of key spots on the bench will go unfilled by Obama nominees.