The Federal Judicial Vacancy Crisis and the Dysfunctional Confirmation Process

  • March 21, 2013

WHEREAS, federal judges can have a dramatic impact on such ADL priorities as religious liberty, due process, civil and human rights, and national security, and

WHEREAS, under our Constitution’s system of checks and balances, the Senate of the United States has a constitutional role in the process for  judicial appointments, and federal judges may serve only if the Senate gives its “advice and consent” to the selection; and

WHEREAS, the current number of federal judicial vacancies is large and growing, and the amount of time needed for nominees to win confirmation is rising dramatically; and

WHEREAS, Senators have used procedural and parliamentary practices – including withholding blue slips, walk-outs, and filibusters – to delay or prevent floor votes for mainstream, well-qualified nominees; and

WHEREAS, recent practice has made filibustering much easier by not requiring the filibustering Senator’s physical presence in the Senate, and as a result the use of the practice has increased dramatically since 2007; and

WHEREAS, delaying or preventing otherwise well-qualified nominees from receiving a Committee hearing or a Senate floor vote undermines the merit-based selection system and causes unnecessary and harmful backlogs in the justice system, delaying or denying justice to litigants; and

WHEREAS, Chief Justice Roberts, in his recent 2011 “Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary,” reaffirmed the importance of an independent judiciary, stating that a judge “should not be swayed by partisan demand, public clamor or considerations of personal popularity or notoriety, nor be apprehensive of unjust criticism;” and

WHEREAS, ADL strongly supports a balanced judicial nominations and confirmation process that maintains the integrity of the judicial appointment process and the independence of judges;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Anti-Defamation League reaffirms its existing policy to urge both political parties to take every step to avoid politicization of the judicial nomination and confirmation process and to call upon the leadership of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate to more expeditiously exercise their Constitutional responsibilities to address the serious problem of Federal judicial vacancies; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Anti-Defamation League opposes the use of procedural and parliamentary practices (including withholding blue slips and filibusters) to delay or prevent the confirmation of nominees who are deemed well-qualified by appropriate bar associations.


Adopted by the National Commission
November 2012


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