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Lower Federal Courts

McConnell Bobs and Weaves on Judicial Nominations

On the Senate floor this morning, Republican leader Mitch McConnell again showed how utterly without merit his party's obstruction techniques are.

Last week, the Judiciary Committee unanimously voted to approve the nomination of Sri Srinivasan to the D.C. Circuit, a critically important court that President Obama has been unable to fill vacancies on due to Republican obstruction. There is no reason to prevent the Senate from holding a prompt confirmation vote, especially since the court has four of its eleven active judgeships vacant. Yet Republicans are doing just that, forcing Democrats to file cloture to end the filibuster.

This morning, McConnell took to the floor to complain that Majority Leader Reid was moving too fast, but that he'd be willing to allow a vote on June 4, right after the Memorial Day break. With the Judiciary Committee having fully vetted the nominee and approved of him without a single no vote – and with McConnell admitting on the floor that Republicans plan to support the nominee – it is unclear what would be gained by waiting.

McConnell also complained that a vote for Srinivasan this week would be unfair to Tenth Circuit nominee Greg Phillips. Phillips was nominated seven months after Srinivasan but, unlike the D.C. Circuit nominee, was allowed to have his committee consideration proceed without months of needless delay: Phillips was approved by the committee without opposition last month. So Reid suggested the obvious solution to McConnell's alleged problem: holding Phillips' already-overdue confirmation vote today.

But McConnell objected, thereby preventing the Senate from holding a vote.

It is worth noting that 19 of George W. Bush's circuit court nominees had confirmation votes within a week of committee approval. Thanks to McConnell, that number is zero for Obama, and the Republican leader clearly hopes to keep it that way.