Today, the Senate easily confirmed the nomination of Luis Felipe Restrepo to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Restrepo spent years as a public defender and in private practice as a criminal defense and “civil rights” attorney. An obvious left-winger, he naturally had the enthusiastic support of groups of that persuasion.
Before the vote on Restrepo, Sen. Charles Grassley, the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, made a statement on the Senate floor. In effect, he praised himself and fellow Republicans for confirming so many Obama-appointed judges:
Today, the Senate will vote on the nomination of Luis Restrepo to be a circuit judge for the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. If he is confirmed, he will be the 319th judicial nominee confirmed during President Obama’s presidency. By comparison, at this time in 2008, the beginning of President Bush’s last year in office, the Senate had confirmed only 297 judicial nominees.
That’s 22 more nominees for President Obama.
I’ve heard a lot of complaining about the pace of judicial nominations this Congress, but I believe actions speak louder than words. And the Senate’s actions have had concrete results. For example, last year, the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings for 35 nominees. That’s exactly what the Committee did in 2007, when we also held hearings for a total of 35 nominees.
Furthermore, I’ve said this before but it bears repeating, there is no judicial vacancy “crisis.” 2015 had the lowest average vacancy rate during President Obama’s presidency, and was among the lowest in the last 25 years. Currently, both the district and circuit courts are over 91 percent filled.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will continue to hold hearings this year on judicial nominees and we’ll continue to do our due diligence in evaluating those nominees.
I’m here to set the record straight on the progress the Senate’s made with regard to judicial nominations. But I don’t view it as a productive effort to continue with the finger pointing and the negative back and forth regarding the previous pace or outcome of judicial nominations.
Grassley may not “view. . .as productive” the “finger pointing and the negative back and forth” about the pace of judicial nominations. However, Democrats do, and Grassley’s statement shows exactly why, from their perspective, it is “productive.”
Clearly, the Dems have managed to “guilt” the Iowa Senator and his colleagues into confirming leftists like Restrepo even in President Obama’s last year in office. Astonishingly, he is more concerned with fending off partisan accusations than with combating the lawlessness of the Obama administration and its potential successor by depriving them of the judicial votes they may need.
In short, the Democrats are inside Grassley’s head.
This is a scandal. Obama is using executive orders on multiple fronts to circumvent Congress and the laws it has passed. The Senate Democrats helped clear the way by eliminating the filibuster of judicial nominees below the Supreme Court level and then packing key circuits with lefty nominees when they still had a majority in the Senate.
What is Chuck Grassley’s response? Confirm more leftists so he can cite happy statistics and try to win the “finger pointing and negative back and forth” about the pace of judicial nominations. Why is he trying to impress the New York Times and the Washington Post?
It’s time to insist that the Republican Senate close up shop when it comes to confirming nominees to the courts of appeals (and any district court nominees with the hint of a leftist track record). Grassley already has the numbers he can tout, if he’s foolish enough to do so. And, as he said today, there is no judicial vacancy crisis.
I should also note that the matter of judicial confirmations is just one area in which the Senate Judiciary Committee has let conservatives down. I discussed other areas in this post. As I said at that time, “It’s not always easy these days to tell which party controls the Senate Judiciary Committee.”