Judicial Vacancies Left Unfilled

Al Kamen reports on the Bush Administration’s slow pace of nominating judges.  There are 47 judicial vacancies, for which the White House has only named 25 nominees.  With only 18 months left in Bush’s term, this makes filling many more slots on the bench quite unlikely.

As we head into the administration’s final 18 months, it appears that, with the Democrats running the Senate, Bush, who has put 278 district and appeals court judges on the bench, has virtually no chance of besting Bill Clinton’s 370 appointments to those courts — about 43 percent of the total 853 judges.

Only an average of 51.5 judges have been confirmed in the last year of recent presidencies — Jimmy Carter through Clinton — including an average of nine confirmed for the more important federal appellate courts.

If that average holds, Bush will fall well short of Clinton’s total, and he may be hard-pressed to get the 11 he needs to match Clinton’s 65 appeals court appointments. (By the way, Clinton reached his total with the Senate in GOP hands for six of his eight years.)

Kamen also reports that Senate Democrats plan to follow the “Thurmond Rule” that only consensus nominees get confirmed once election season is in full swing.  Therefore, the White House’s slow pace at picking judicial nominees could turn out to be quite costly.

Jonathan H. Adler — Jonathan H. Adler teaches courses in environmental, administrative, and constitutional law at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

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