Despite the 95 yawning vacancies on the federal bench, Senate Republicans are blocking virtually all of President Obama’s nominees. Only three of Obama’s 22 nominees have been confirmed, as Republicans take the “partisan war over the courts into uncharted territory,” writes Doug Kendall for Slate. Both parties have been increasingly aggressive in recent years in blocking nominees, but the GOP is now blocking even consensus candidates.
Uncontroversial judges traditionally gain confirmation without debate after a quick voice vote. But thanks to arcane rules, any senator can theoretically throw a wrench in the works, and that’s what Republicans are doing, hoping to use the judges as bargaining chips on other issues. “This is unprecedented and dangerous,” writes Kendall. It “undermines the one part of the judicial confirmation process that was still working.”