Federal Courts and Nominations

Unprecedented Obstruction: Senate Republicans Block Consensus Federal Appeals Court Nominee

CAC Vice President Schaeffer: “Senate conservatives have reconfirmed their total disregard for the third branch of our government”


Washington, DC – On news that Senate Republicans this evening successfully filibustered and thus blocked a yes or no vote on the nomination of U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Bacharach to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit,  Constitutional Accountability Center Vice President Judith E. Schaeffer said:


“Today’s filibuster is the lowest point yet in the Senate Republican leadership’s unprecedented blockade against President Obama’s judicial nominees, even utterly uncontroversial nominees like Robert Bacharach. With their action today, Senate conservatives have reconfirmed their total disregard for the third branch of our government — the federal judiciary — to the great detriment of our courts and all Americans seeking access to justice.”


Schaeffer continued, “Today’s vote shows that the partisan dysfunction in our Nation’s capital has drowned out virtually every conservative voice of reason in the Senate. Both of Judge Bacharach’s home state Republican Senators — Tom Coburn and Jim Inhofe — are on the record strongly supporting his nomination. In June, Senator Coburn even said that ‘it’s stupid’ for Senate Republicans to block a yes or no vote on consensus nominees like Bacharach.  Nonetheless, rank partisanship and unprecedented obstruction won out today, as Senators Coburn and Inhofe, by refusing to vote for cloture, joined the vast majority of their Republican colleagues in denying  Bacharach a yes or no vote on his nomination,” Schaeffer said.




*  Tom Coburn, the conservative Republican  junior U.S. Senator from Oklahoma said, “I believe that Judge Bacharach will uphold the highest standards and reflect the best in our American judicial tradition by coming to the bench as a well-regarded member of the community.” Speaking about the possible blockade of a Senate floor vote on Judge Bacharach, Sen. Coburn said, “I think it’s stupid.” http://newsok.com/oklahoma-sen.-tom-coburn-says-gop-may-block-appellate-nominee-from-oklahoma-city/article/3682374/?page=1  


*  Conservative Republican James Inhofe – Oklahoma’s senior U.S. Senator – also has high praise for Judge Bacharach, saying, “He is a great guy” and that “it is kind of rare that the Obama White House and I agree on anything. He (Bacharach) is a person that has done a good job.” http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=335&articleid=20120124_14_A5_WASHIN903301


*  During President Obama’s first term, conservatives in the Senate, led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, have taken the unprecedented step of blocking yes or no votes on even the most uncontroversial judicial nominees, resulting in a significant increase in vacancies over the course of the last four years, reversing the typical trend.  President Obama’s nominees have waited an average of 111 days for a vote on the Senate floor, which is more than three times longer than the average waiting time of President George W. Bush’s nominees. Source: CAC judicial database.  See also:


—  “Vacancy Crisis Update: Senate Must Act Now and Throughout 2012 to Reduce Pressure on Federal Courts” January 19, 2012: http://theusconstitution.org/text-history/1247/vacancy-crisis-update-80-vacancies-936-days-and-counting   


—  “Confirmation Warriors: What’s the endgame for Obama’s judicial nominees?” Doug Kendall, October 8, 2010: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2010/10/confirmation_warriors.html  


—  “The Bench in Purgatory: The new Republican obstructionism on Obama’s judicial nominees” Doug Kendall, October 26, 2009: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2009/10/the_bench_in_purgatory.html  




Constitutional Accountability Center (www.theusconstitution.org) is a think tank, public interest law firm, and action center dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of the Constitution’s text and history.