Bench Memos

Senator Mike Lee on Judicial Confirmations

According to a press release issued by his office today, Senator Mike Lee of Utah “blasted the White House for misleading the public on the issue of judicial vacancies.” Here are excerpts from Senator Lee’s statement at a Judiciary Committee hearing:

The reality is that judicial vacancies are down 20 percent from last year and are at the lowest level in nearly three years.

The vast majority of current vacancies remain for one reason — President Obama simply has not nominated individuals for those judgeships.   With respect to the current 76 judicial vacancies, the Obama administration has made only 29 nominations.… 

To date, the Senate has confirmed 143 of President Obama’s district and circuit judges.  That is significantly more judicial confirmations in the first three or so years of the Obama administration than the 120 we confirmed during the previous four years of President Bush’s second term.

And we continue to confirm more.  So far this year we are well above historical standards.  The average number of confirmations by May 9 for a presidential election year is 11.  We have already confirmed 21 judges this year.  That’s almost double the normal pace.

Finally, the suggestion of “unprecedented filibusters” is simply ridiculous.  During President Bush’s first three years, Senate Democrats forced 19 cloture votes on judicial nominees—19 votes to filibuster judges.  During President Obama’s first three years the Senate took only 6 such votes. 

We have treated President Obama’s nominees better than the Democrats treated President Bush’s nominees.  For the White House or Senate Democrats to suggest otherwise is false and hypocritical.

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