Federal Courts and Nominations

Senate needs to get moving and vote on nominees


“Courts cannot do their work if authorized judicial positions remain vacant.” That’s from a letter sent to Senate leadership last month from 20 judges on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

It was a poignant reminder that the judicial branch is dependent on the legislative branch to confirm qualified judges. Judges on the 9th Circuit, including some appointed by Ronald Reagan and the two Bush presidents, want the Senate to act.

Arizona Sens. Jon Kyl and John McCain have a particular interest here.

Arizona federal Judge Mary Murguia is one 23 federal judicial nominees who are awaiting an up-or-down vote in the Senate. All have been reported out of the Judiciary Committee. All are considered qualified. But full Senate votes are being stalled by Republicans, says Doug Pennington of the Washington-based Constitutional Accountability Center. The Washington Post blames both parties and the White House for the delays.

Procedural delays, demands for excessive debate or filibusters keep courts understaffed. President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees are being confirmed at about half the rate of his two predecessors, according to the Center for American Progress.

Murguia has the support of Arizona’s Republican senators. In introducing her at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Kyl cited Murguia’s reputation “of fairness, of equality, of blind justice.”

There is no doubt about Murguia’s qualifications to move to the 9th Circuit, which serves about one-fifth of the nation’s population, including Arizona.

There is no doubt about the need to fill vacant judicial positions.

Kyl and McCain should use their stature to persuade Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell to allow votes on Murguia and the other judges during the lame-duck session.

To read this article online, click here.

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