Signature needed: Appoint judges before Mitch McConnell takes over

CREDO action
Democrats must fill judicial vacancies before Republicans take over the Senate

Tell Senate Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Judiciary Committee Chair Patrick Leahy and President Barack Obama:
"When it comes to progressive priorities like women's rights, voting rights, the environment, and corporate accountability, the Senate can make the greatest impact in the lame duck session by filling all current vacancies on the federal bench with lifetime appointments for judges nominated by President Obama. Do whatever it takes to fill all judicial vacancies before the end of the lame duck session, even if it means passing no other legislation than the federal budget."

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Dear 5849376,

Confirm judges now

Democrats have just a few weeks before Republicans take over the Senate. But they've only confirmed six of the nearly 60 outstanding vacancies for lifetime appointments to the federal bench. If Democrats mess this up, it could set us back decades.

Tell Democrats to fill judicial vacancies before Republicans take over the Senate. Click here to sign the petition.

Besides ensuring the government doesn't shut down, there's no Senate business more important between now and January than leaving a long-term legacy of highly-qualified judges on the federal bench.

How could Democrats find time to help Mary Landrieu push a sham vote on Keystone XL or to negotiate a terrible tax deal with Republicans that President Obama was sure to veto,1 but confirm only six nominees for lifetime appointments to some of the most important courts in the nation?

Federal judges have lifetime appointments. That gives them decades to rule on progressive priorities like the environment, civil rights, voting rights, women's rights, corporate accountability, and gun control.

Come January, Mitch McConnell will do whatever he can to block President Obama's nominees. But while Democrats still have the majority in the Senate, Majority Leader Reid, Senate Judiciary Chair Patrick Leahy, and Senate Democrats can make sure all of President Obama's nominees get confirmed.

Tell them to act before it's too late. Click here to sign the petition.

Filling the current judicial vacancies won't be an easy task, but it's the most important thing the Senate can do between now and the end of the lame duck session. Here are four things that Democrats will have to do:

  1. Majority Leader Reid must place all other Senate business on hold while he sends nominee after nominee up for a vote. Republicans will do everything they can to slow down the process and try to run out the clock. With the exception of a bill to keep the government funded, this may mean he can't pass any other legislation until every single nominee is confirmed.
  2. Senate Judiciary Chair Patrick Leahy must remove all procedural blocks to advancing the President's nominees through the Judiciary Committee and make the time for his committee to consider and vote on all nominees so they can be advanced to the floor for a full vote. This means he should stop honoring the "blue slip" tradition in the Senate that allows Republicans to blackball the president's nominees, and push any nominations forward, without making any arbitrary deadline after which he will not move nominations to the floor.2
  3. President Obama hasn't yet provided progressive nominees for all vacancies. He must demand that any Senate Democrat who has a home-state vacancy give him a nominee immediately, and demand that his nominations move forward immediately regardless of whether the nominee's home state senator has pre-approved the appointment.
  4. Senate Democrats will have to stay in Washington through the end of December, or until every nominee is confirmed.

Senate Majority Leader Reid has already laid the groundwork for this approach, by eliminating the Senate rule that allowed Republicans to filibuster almost every one of Obama's nominees.

Thirty three judges have been confirmed since Senator Reid made the rule change a year ago. But we still have almost 60 confirmations to go and less than a month to make it happen. Ensuring the Senate confirms all the president's nominees will impact the federal courts for decades, and would be a lasting legacy of Reid's Democratic Senate and of Obama's presidency.

Tell Democratic leaders: Confirm progressive judges while there's still time. Click here to sign the petition.

Every Democratic Senator has a role to play. All Democratic Senators need to support Majority Leader Reid's efforts to keep the Senate in session as long as it takes to confirm nominees, even if the session goes well into December.

Tell Senate Majority Leader Reid, Judiciary Committee Chair Leahy, Senate Democrats and President Obama: Do whatever it takes to confirm judges while there's still time. Click the link below to sign the petition:

George W. Bush knew how important it was to fill every single vacancy. President Obama has a long way to go before he reaches parity with the court packing practiced by his predecessor. And it's up to us to help make that happen.

Thank you for joining CREDO in making this the number one priority in the Senate.

Heidi Hess, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

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  1. "Obama Threatens to Veto $440 Billion Tax Deal," Jonathan Weisman, The New York Times, 11/25/2014.
  2. While Judiciary Committee Chair Leahy has done good work moving nominees out of committee, he has also honored the arcane Senate tradition of the "blue slips," which blocks confirmation proceedings until both senators from the nominee's home state approve of the nomination.This effectively requires President Obama to obtain pre-approval from obstructionist, right-wing Republican senators before he can nominate a federal judge to the bench in their home state. With so much riding on judicial confirmations, and with Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley already a regular obstructionist in the committee, it's time to drop all possible procedural roadblocks and move nominees through.

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