Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans today boycotted a committee business meeting due to the lack of nominations scheduled for consideration. Committee Republicans have been attempting to work with the Democrats since last December, proposing timelines for processing judicial nominees in a fair and orderly manner, but the pace has been insufficient compared to previous administrations. Given evidence offered at a forum on the judicial confirmation process held earlier this week by the Senate Republican Conference, it is clear that there is no precedent for halting consideration of nominations at this date despite the Democrats' constant citing of the "Thurmond Rule."
Senator Specter said: "The Committee functions better when members attend business meetings. However, in light of the slow pace of judicial confirmations, I understand why my colleagues chose not to attend a business meeting where there are no nominations included on the agenda. Even though a number of nominees are ripe for committee action, no hearings on judicial nominations have been scheduled for future consideration."
Senator Grassley said: "The Democrats have employed a lot of fancy footwork to dance around their constitutional responsibility to give fair consideration of President Bush's judicial nominees. They are doing nothing more than burning down the clock, having dreamt up every stalling tactic in the book to prevent qualified Americans from serving on the federal bench. We have a number of highly qualified nominees pending, yet they languish and twist in the Democrats' partisan winds. It's time to give these nominees the fair process that they deserve."
Senator Kyl said: "There are a significant number of nominees currently pending in the Judiciary Committee who have been denied up-or-down votes. It seems to be no other reason then purely political motivation that is blocking these confirmations."
Senator Sessions said: "The Democrat controlled Senate has been derelict in its duty to advise and consent on the President's judicial nominees. We have three qualified nominees awaiting confirmation votes, including Robert Conrad, whose nomination has been pending for a year, and Peter Keisler, whose nomination has been pending for over two years. Each of these superb nominees has received the American Bar Association's highest rating by a unanimous vote. Rather than move forward with confirmation hearings, yet another mark-up has been scheduled with no judicial nominees on the agenda. The President has a right to have his clearly qualified nominees receive proper hearings and consideration in the Senate, and it is time for Chairman Leahy to allow that to happen."
Senator Graham said: "The performance of the Democratic majority when it comes to judicial nominees has been unacceptable. This Congress is about to set a record-low in the number of circuit court confirmations. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes South Carolina, has an unprecedented number of judge vacancies. The failure to confirm qualified judges does a great disservice to the citizens who reside in these states. The Democratic-majority's actions are not in the best interest of the judiciary, the Senate, the executive, or the country."
Senator Cornyn said: "A number of well-qualified judicial nominees have been waiting over 700 days for a simple up-or-down vote in the Senate. I strongly disagree with the Majority Leader who said on the Senate floor just this morning that judicial nominations are not important to the average American. In fact, judges do matter. People need access to courts, and Congress might as well put a padlock on the front door of the courthouse if the Senate is not going to confirm well-qualified judicial nominees to serve in our courts. Whether it's victims of crime or a small businessman or woman who has a civil dispute they need resolved in a court of law - these are Americans being denied access to justice because the Senate is not confirming enough judges that have been nominated by the President."
Senator Brownback said: "The Senate Judiciary Committee has shirked its obligations in favor of pushing a partisan agenda instead of honoring the constitutional duty to offer advice and consent on judicial nominees. Senate Democrats have been blocking qualified appellate court nominees by claiming that they are too qualified' and by citing a mythical Thurmond rule' that they previously admitted doesn't exist. These highly qualified nominees have waited far too long, and it's essential that we act on them now."
Senator Coburn said: "One of our highest constitutional responsibilities in the Senate is the consideration of judicial nominees. If the Judiciary Committee agenda does not include nominees, there is little point in attending its meetings. I hope the Chairman will take note of Republicans' absence and schedule nominees for both hearings and markup without further delay."