Yesterday a coalition of about 60 groups, including Liberty Counsel, delivered a letter to each member of the Senate Judiciary Committee urging them to make sure "each and every judicial nominee is given a hearing and is reported out of committee for consideration by the full Senate in a timely manner." The letter complains that the lack of progress by the committee "has made it impossible for the Senate to fulfill its constitutional duty of advice and consent in good faith."
The letter points to evidence of the lack of action: "Five appeals court nominees - three of them waiting to fill vacancies declared 'judicial emergencies' - and 14 district court nominees are languishing in the Judiciary Committee. Four additional appeals court nominations have just been announced. Several nominees have been waiting for more than a year for the committee to do its job."
The groups also decry the fact that some "nominees are being subjected to obstruction borne of partisan politics" and cite as a prime example the "ugly campaign of character assassination" against Judge Leslie Southwick, who sat for 12 years on the Mississippi Court of Appeals. Judge Southwick is a well-qualified Iraq War veteran nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
The letter states that "broken promises and personal attacks on nominees that have accompanied this inaction - as well as the unfairness of denying qualified nominees a fair up-or-down vote by the full Senate - only add to the public perception that your committee is not living up to its responsibilities." The letter concludes by requesting that Judiciary Committee members accomplish the necessary tasks "by putting statesmanship above politics and special interests."
Our judicial system is far too important to fall victim to partisan politics. The federal court system desperately needs more good judges, but many well-qualified individuals will refuse to serve rather than subject themselves to the whims and endless delays of the Senate Judiciary Committee. In order to administer justice in the courts, we need judges. It is time for the Senate Judiciary Committee to set aside partisan politics and begin serving the public.
A copy of the letter is posted on Liberty Counsel's website at www.LC.org/news.