This evening the Senate confirmed Robert Bacharach to the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Oklahoma. Judge Bacharach waited 263 days for a Senate floor vote, only to be approved overwhelmingly, by a vote of 93-0. Not only was Judge Bacharach supported by the two Republican Senators from Oklahoma, he was recommended to the White House for this judgeship by Senator Coburn in October 2011. Yet, early last summer, Senate Republicans blocked Judge Bacharach from even getting an up or down vote – the first successful filibuster of a judicial nominee who had bipartisan support in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
In short, Republicans recommended Robert Bacharach for this important position, endorsed him publicly, supported him nearly unanimously out of the Judiciary Committee, then blocked him from getting a vote – and now, after almost a year of pointless delay, joined in unanimously confirming him. Even Senator Coburn, himself a participant in this partisan chicanery, called this “stupid.”
Unfortunately this is not a unique case. On February 13, the Senate confirmed William Kayatta for the First Circuit from Maine. His nomination languished for 300 days, yet he was easily confirmed with 88 Senators supporting him. And next up is Richard Taranto for the Federal Circuit, whose nomination has been pending for 333 days.
To put this obstruction in some perspective, the average wait time for President George W. Bush’s federal appellate judicial nominees, from Committee vote to confirmation, at this point in his presidency was 35 days. By contrast, the average wait time for President Obama’s federal appellate judicial nominees has been 147 days.
Today, there are 14 judicial nominees pending before the Senate, most of whom were approved by the Judiciary Committee unanimously and several of whom would fill judicial emergency seats. An additional 21 nominees are pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee. These 35, highly-qualified nominees signify the President’s unprecedented commitment to a judiciary that reflects the nation it serves: 17 are women; 6 are African American; 6 are Hispanic; 4 are Asian American; and 5 are openly gay.
The Senate should move to confirm all of the judicial nominees pending before it. These nominees deserve immediate consideration by the full Senate, and the interest of justice demands it.