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Judicial Nominations

March 12, 2012 9:15 am ET
The Senate will likely vote this week on some of the many judicial nominations stalled by Republicans, whose unprecedented efforts to block President Obama from appointing judges has caused a crisis level of vacancies on our Federal courts for nearly three years.

CORE MESSAGE

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


ATTACK: "Democrats complaining about stalled judicial nominations are hypocrites."
RESPONSE:

  • 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.


ATTACK: Republicans are just protesting President Obama's recess appointments power grab."
RESPONSE:


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


THE REPUBLICAN AGENDA FOR OUR COURTS


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