Posted by: Christine Johnson | June 5, 2008

GOP Senate Goes to the Sports Authority…

… and buys a few baseballs, bowling balls, footballs, soccer balls, tennis balls …
Jill Stanek reports that the Republicans are fulfilling a promise to shut down the Senate if the Democrats don’t follow through on their promise to confirm judges to fill the vacancies across the country.
Jill writes:

I wrote May 23 that Senate Republicans were threatening to do something if Senate Democrats didn’t fulfill promises to confirm more judges.

When I emailed a source asking what that was, the source responded, “As [Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell] told the Senators, ‘You will recognize it when you see it.'”

Well, this afternoon we’re seeing it….

After releasing a statement this morning (reprinted in full below) McConnell used a parliamentary tactic to, in essence, shut down the Senate.

Senate rules require that when an amendment is introduced the clerk begin to read the text. The senator introducing the measure then requests consent that the reading be dispensed with. There is rarely an objection.

Today, however, McConnell objected and is forcing reading of the Boxer substitute to the Lieberman-Warner Climate Change Bill.

And that would be 491 pages long.

Well! What a pleasant surprise!
She also has the text of a release from Mitch McConnell. Here’s a bit of that (be sure to click through for the full text):

“The Democratic Majority has repeatedly failed to treat the judicial nominees fairly.

“At the beginning of this Congress, the Majority said it would meet or exceed the average of 17 circuit court nominees that have been confirmed in prior Congresses; yet it has only confirmed eight circuit court judges thus far. More disturbing, the Chairman of the Committee recently threatened to shut down the confirmation process completely, an action that would break yet another historical precedent.

“The Majority said it would treat Republican senate delegations fairly; yet for months, the Democratic Majority has only worked on circuit court nominees from states with a Democratic senator.

“The Majority said it would do its ‘utmost,’ said it would do ‘everything’ possible, said it would do ‘everything within its power’ to confirm three more circuit court nominees by the Memorial Day recess; yet it only confirmed one nominee. Moreover, it appears the Majority did not seriously attempt to honor its commitment. Indeed, since that deadline passed almost two weeks ago, the Democratic Majority has still failed to confirm more circuit court nominees. …”

A Wall Street Journal editorial that Stanek cites has this bit of information on the judicial vacancy emergencies:

Mr. Reid’s strategy is clearly to leave as many vacancies as possible for President Obama – never mind that four circuits are currently operating with one or more seats that count as judicial “emergencies” because they have been vacant for so long. The Fourth Circuit is down four judges, but Mr. Leahy is refusing to move on four well-qualified nominees – Glen Conrad, Rod Rosenstein, Steve Matthews and Bob Conrad. Peter Keisler, nominated for the D.C. Circuit, has been waiting for a hearing since 2006. Democrats think he’s too smart and too qualified and thus future Supreme Court material. So don’t expect Mr. Reid to return the Stephen Breyer favor.

This site gives a count of federal judicial vacancies, where we learn that the U.S. Court of Appeals has 11 vacancies with 10 nominees pending and U.S. District Courts have 36 vacancies with 21 nominees pending. That means there are a total of 31 nominees who are left waiting. This is more than just political posturing. We’re talking about real people with real lives and real families whose lives are on hold while the Democrats play games and leave courts without judges. How is a speedy trial to be given when a court must share a judge with another district?
At the same site as above one can find this report, which shows shows the judicial nominees who have been confirmed by this 110th Congress. Also found there is the list of judicial vacancy emergencies, which include the following positions that have been vacant for more than 1,000 days (columns are Court, Circuit, Vacancy Created by, Reason, Vacancy Date, Days Vacant):
  • 09 *** CCA *** Trott, Stephen S. *** Senior *** 12/31/04 *** 1,252
  • 06 *** MI-E *** Duggan, Patrick J. *** Senior *** 9/29/00 *** 2,806
  • 04 *** CCA *** Murnaghan, Francis *** Deceased ***8/31/00 *** 2,835
  • 06 *** CCA *** Ryan, James L. *** Senior *** 1/1/00 *** 3,078
  • 04 *** CCA *** Phillips, J. Dickson, Jr. *** Senior *** 7/31/94 *** 5,058

In case you’re wondering what those “days vacant” translate to in terms of years, I’ll save you the trouble of getting out the calculator.

  • Vacancy left by Trott: 3.4 years
  • Vacancy left by Duggan: 7.7 years
  • Vacancy left by Murnaghan: 7.8 years
  • Vacancy left by Ryan: 8.4 years
  • Vacancy left by Phillips: 13.9 years

So let’s hope that the Republicans in the Senate threw away the receipt for their new sports equipment and don’t decide to try to return all those balls and exchange them for a nice, fuzzy pair of socks.

Hat tip: Jean at Catholic Fire

[image sources: balls, socks]

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