Will Senator Sessions Send Still Pending Sixth Circuit Nominee Jane Stranch An Anniversary Cake?

In today’s Washington Post, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, claims that President Obama’s nominees to the federal trial and appellate courts are “moving along.”  It takes a great deal of chutzpah to make this claim in the face of the actual data, which show, as we detailed in a  post here several days ago, that Senate Republicans are engaged in unprecedented obstruction of the President’s lower court nominees.  Previously, uncontroversial nominees could be expected to clear the Judiciary Committee and be swiftly confirmed by a vote on the Senate floor.  But since Barack Obama took office, Republicans have abused procedural rules to virtually paralyze the process and block confirmation of the President’s nominees.

The irony –and fallacy – of Senator Sessions’ words surely are not lost on Jane Stranch, a nominee to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit from Tennessee who will celebrate a dubious anniversary this week, as August 6 will be one year since President Obama nominated her.  Stranch was voted favorably (15-4) out of the Judiciary Committee back in November, but has yet to receive an up or down vote by the full Senate.  Moving along?  Hardly.

Stranch epitomizes President Obama’s judicial nominees – most are uncontroversial and have bipartisan support, yet are going nowhere fast.  Stranch herself has the support of her home state Senators, both Republicans, including Lamar Alexander, a member of the Senate Republican leadership.  Senator Alexander even went to the Senate floor recently to ask for unanimous consent for an up or down vote on Stranch’s nomination.  He was soundly rebuffed by his own Republican colleague, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

When the Republican leader won’t even give one of his own party colleagues the courtesy of unanimous consent to move forward with a vote on a judicial nominee, that says many things about the confirmation process in this Senate, but moving nominees along is not one of them.