It shouldn't be so hard for regular Americans to have their day in court.
Connect: In America, if you have a dispute, you go to court, and within a reasonable amount of time, you should be able to get a decision.
State of play: But right now, Republicans are blocking so many judicial nominees that they've left half of all Americans -- over 160 million people -- without enough judges to handle the caseload.
Illustrate: It shouldn't be so hard for women, small businesses, and families trying to hold big corporations accountable to have their day in court.
Offer solutions: Congress can solve this problem right now by voting to confirm highly qualified judges with bipartisan support. It's time to let them get to work for the American people.
Contrast: But Republicans are deliberately keeping good judges off the bench so they can keep packing the courts with ideologues who put a thumb on the scale for corporate interests, like they did in Citizens United.
Bottom line: It's wrong to block judges who would be fair to all Americans in order to pursue an ideological agenda -- but that's exactly what Republicans are doing.
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ATTACKS AND RESPONSES
- There's just no comparison: Republicans in Congress are abusing their role in the judicial nominations process at unprecedented levels that President Bush never faced. And it's causing a judicial vacancy rate double what it was at this point in Bush's first term.
- Democratic leaders were doing their jobs when they used the Senate filibuster against a handful of President Bush's most extreme nominees. Republicans are now filibustering judges with bipartisan support to keep Obama from putting any nominees on the bench.
- Republicans used to say it's unconstitutional to deny a President a simple up-or-down vote on his judicial nominees. But with Obama, they've changed their tune and even admit to it.
- That's just a convenient excuse -- Republicans have been obstructing Obama's nominations since his very first nominee.
- That's why even before the recess appointments, Obama's district court nominees have had to wait more than 4 times longer than Bush's to get a confirmation vote after committee approval.
- The American people elected President Obama to enforce the law. The President has a responsibility to keep our government running. That's what he was doing when he made the NLRB and Cordray appointments.
- So in response to President Obama doing his job, Republicans are actually refusing to do their own jobs and trying to keep our courts from doing their jobs, too.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
OUR FEDERAL COURTS
- Our courts matter because every issue we care about will end up in the courts at some point. Federal judges, who serve lifetime terms, have the authority to decide legal questions on issues like corporate powers, our rights to free speech and a free press, the right to vote, worker protections, business contracts, and Social Security and Medicare.
- We are currently in the longest period of historically high vacancy rates in the federal judiciary in the last 35 years, forcing judges in their 80s and 90s who want to retire to stay on the bench.
- As a result, families and businesses typically must wait over 2 years before their civil trial can even start.
- In 2010, it cost the federal government $1.4 billion to detain inmates needlessly waiting for a trial because there weren't enough federal judges to hear their cases.
UNPRECEDENTED GOP OBSTRUCTIONISM
- Half of all Americans -- 160 million Americans -- live in an area with a judicial vacancy that could be filled this week if Republicans would simply allow an up-or-down confirmation vote on the pending nominations.
- During President Obama's first three years, the percentage of judicial vacancies doubled. In stark contrast, vacancies were cut in half during President Clinton's and Bush's first three years.
- Legal scholars say Republicans are abusing their role in the judicial nominations process at unprecedented levels, repeatedly blocking highly-qualified nominees -- including judges backed by Republican home state senators and legal scholars across the political spectrum.
THE REPUBLICAN AGENDA FOR OUR COURTS
- GOP presidents have dramatically tilted the makeup of our federal courts, making them more likely to produce unfair outcomes, including decisions like Citizens United that favor corporations over regular people, and to make it harder for people to bring serious claims to court.
- Four of the five most conservative justices to serve on the Supreme Court over the past 70 years sit on the Supreme Court today.
- Judges appointed by Republican presidents dominate the federal courts: over half of circuit court judges and district court judges are GOP appointees -- and Republicans aim to keep it that way.
- The laws and protections that Republicans believe should be struck down include Social Security and Medicare, children's health care, child labor bans, the minimum wage, unemployment insurance, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and disaster relief.
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Posted in - Nominations - Judiciary