David Oscar Markus lives in a rational world. Thus, he reasonably believed that the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee would vote today on the nomination of S.D. Fla. District Judge Adalberto José Jordán to be a United States Circuit Judge for the Eleventh Circuit.
After all, Judge Jordan is strongly supported by his Florida home-state U.S. Senators, The Palm Beach Post Editorial Board urged a truce to avoid any delay of his confirmation, his hearing was uneventful, he was on today’s Committee’s agenda, and Chairman Pat Leahy’s statement explained that:
“Federal judicial vacancies across the country remain above 90. This is the longest extended period of high vacancies in the last 35 years. More than one of every 10 Federal judgeships remains vacant. Today the Committee has the opportunity to make progress and vote on 10 of President Obama's judicial nominees to fill vacancies in California, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New York, Washington, West Virginia and Utah, as well as on the 11th Circuit and the Federal Circuit.”
Judiciary Committee Republican senators, however, nearly always exercise their right to delay votes on every judicial nominee until the next week’s Executive Business Meeting the first time they are listed. Today, they delayed Judge Jordan and four others until Oct. 13.
Moe importantly, the fact that Judge Jordan is moving through Committee does NOT mean that he will get a Floor vote anytime soon. True, he has (bipartisan) home state senator support and should be approved without opposition in Committee. But that is also true of nearly all of the many other stalled nominees.
Anonymous and unexplained objections from GOP senators have created an unprecedented backlog of consensus judicial nominees who could and should be approved very quickly. As Senate Judiciary Chairman Pat Leahy explained in July, "we will still have 25 nominees sitting on the calendar who could be disposed of within an hour, yet they are blocked week after week after week.”
Even the most consensus district court nominees are only confirmed after inexcusable and unexplained delays. For example, the New Orleans Times-Picayune’s Oct. 5 Editorial described how
“Nannette Jolivette-Brown will be the first African-American woman to serve on the federal bench in Louisiana, following a unanimous vote by the U.S. Senate Monday confirming her nomination. . . . She had the backing of both Sen. [Mary] Landrieu and Sen. David Vitter, who was a law school classmate at Tulane University. Both urged the Senate Judiciary Committee and the full Senate to confirm her quickly at her confirmation hearing in May.”
There were 27 Committee approved judicial nominees awaiting Floor votes before the Senate belatedly confirmed Jolivette-Brown and five others unanimously. When the Committee approves Judge Jordan and the other delayed nominees next week, there will once again be 27 awaiting Floor votes.
A sweeping nonpartisan push to fill federal judgeships extends from Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, to the American Bar Association and Federal Bar Association, to countless editorials boards and commentators from across the nation.
Justice delayed is justice denied, as more than 200 million Americans live in areas where the U.S. Courts have declared vacant judgeships to be judicial emergencies.
-Glenn Sugameli, Staff Attorney, Judging the Environment, Defenders of Wildlife