Bench Memos

Leahy’s Misreading of Chief Justice Roberts

In a speech earlier this week outlining his agenda for the next two years, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy invoked Chief Justice Roberts in support of his call for faster confirmation of judicial nominations:

In his annual report on the Federal Judiciary, Chief Justice Roberts recently wrote of the urgent need to fill the Federal judicial vacancies.

But what the Chief Justice actually wrote in his year-end report is that there is an “urgent need for the political branches to find a long-term solution to [the] recurring problem” (emphasis added) of delays in filling judicial vacancies.

Absent some broader bipartisan agreement on how best to process judicial nominees by a president of either party, there is no reason to think that Republican senators’ expedition of President Obama’s judicial nominees would lead to the “long-term solution” that the Chief Justice is urging. In other words, unilateral surrender is not a promising strategy.


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