As federal courts are swamped with overwhelming caseloads, the Senate continues to confirm judges at a slow trickle. The gridlock has been attributed to Republican lawmakers, who have been blocking judges recommended by President Barack Obama.
The GOP hopes to bar as many Obama-picked judges as possible until the 2016 presidential election, when it hopes to recapture the White House and install as many right-leaning judges as possible, according to The Huffington Post.
Between Jan. 1 and Nov. 4, the Senate has only confirmed nine judges recommended by the president. In comparison, 34 judges were confirmed in the third year of former President George W. Bush’s second term. If this pace continues, 2015 will produce the fewest confirmations since 1960, Mother Jones reports.
The partisan gridlock has been affecting the federal courts, several of which have declared “judicial emergencies” as caseloads mount with too few judges to address them, according to Politico.
Judicial confirmations can be slowed by the majority leader scheduling hearings over a long stretch of time. Senators can also withhold a “blue slip” approval form for nominees who come from their state. Judiciary nominees need these endorsements to move forward approval process.
Among the lawmakers who have been withholding blue slips is Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. He has yet to give his blue slip to Florida district judge Mary Flores, and claims he is still reviewing Flores’ credentials, even though he was the one who nominated her to begin with, The Huffington Post reports.
“Really, we’ve got to stop it. Both sides,” Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California told Politico. “The problem is it all depends on who’s in power. And then they take advantage, so what goes around comes around. And it’s got to end.”