By Glenn Sugameli, Founder, Judging the Environment and Senior Attorney, Defenders of Wildlife, Washington, D.C.
U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley’s column “Review of 2015: Senate goes to work,” which appeared in the Jan. 5 Daily Globe, cites the fact that lawmakers “considered nominations” to support his claim that the “Senate succeeded in breathing life back into the world’s greatest deliberative body.”
In his role as Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, however, Sen. Grassley must know that the Senate spectacularly failed its advise and consent constitutional duty to not only “consider nominations,” but to vote on them.
In 2015, the Senate only voted on 11 federal judges, all of whom were confirmed (the fewest since 1960). Vacancies have increased more than 50 percent in one year while those the U.S. courts declared to be judicial emergencies soared from 12 to 32. Justice delayed from lack of judges is justice denied for people and businesses in Iowa, Minnesota and throughout the nation.
In each of President George W. Bush’s final two years, a Democratic Senate confirmed all his judicial nominees pending on the executive calendar in December. In contrast, Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) unjustifiably delayed 14 lifetime and five other judicial nominees awaiting December Floor votes, even though Minnesota, Iowa and all other nominees were approved on Judiciary Committee voice votes. All seven home-state Republican senators (including Sens. Grassley and Joni Ernst) recommended their nominees and urged their prompt approval.