Senate Rules Reform ? the Weekly Recap, October 4, 2013

Washington, DC – With obstruction in full-display this week due to the federal government shutdown, important judicial and executive branch nominations continue to languish in the U.S. Senate.

The shutdown stalled the progress of three nominations to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, indefinitely delaying votes to advance their nominations. Considered the nation’s second most important court, the D.C. Circuit Court tackles some of the most sensitive and controversial cases impacting Americans. The confirmation of the slate of three nominees is crucial to the court’s proceedings.

Other important executive branch nominees including Rep. Mel Watt to the Federal Housing Finance Agency and Nicholas Geale to the National Mediation Board are just a few of the many that remain held up. The shutdown underscores how important these nominees are to a fully functioning American government, something every hardworking taxpayer deserves.

Meanwhile, the issue of long-standing federal court vacancies continues to raise alarms with observers across the country. In particular, momentum continues to build for the swift confirmation of Judge William Thomas to a federal district court in South Florida. Thomas’s nomination is currently being delayed by Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R).

Please see below this week’s developments and highlights: 

  • Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), remarks at the Joseph L. Rauh, Jr. Lecture at the University of the District of Columbia, “We need sustained pressure to get those judges in front of the Senate. Pressure – pressure on our President, pressure on Senators, pressure in the press. And if the judges don’t get a vote, if they are blocked, if they can’t get through – we need to change the filibuster rules so we can get them through.”
  • David Oscar Markus, former president of the Federal Bar Association’s South Florida chapter, in a South Florida Times piece, “The vacancy for which Judge Thomas was nominated has been open since early 2012. Judge Thomas was selected by our local bipartisan [Judicial Nominating Commission], interviewed and approved by both of our senators and nominated by the president of the United States … Congress has declared the Southern District of Florida to be a ‘judicial emergency’ district, meaning that we need judges immediately,” Markus said. “This emergency is creating a real hardship for litigants in our district because of the delay attendant to judicial vacancies … He [Judge Thomas] should be permitted to have a committee hearing and a full senate vote.”