This morning, Americans looking for signs of progress in resolving the historic vacancy crisis harming our nation's federal courts instead saw another monkey wrench thrown into the gears of justice: Just as they did a week ago, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee boycotted their regularly scheduled Thursday meeting, thereby preventing a quorum and delaying yet again votes on highly qualified judicial nominees.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (the committee's ranking Republican) eventually showed up but claimed not to know where his colleagues were. Chairman Pat Leahy had no choice but to end the meeting, saying he would try this afternoon to find a spot off the Senate floor to reconvene and hold their already-delayed votes.
With this deliberate crippling of the Judiciary Committee, no nominees were approved and advanced to the Senate floor. Rather than address the glut of nominees waiting for a floor vote by actually allowing a yes-or-no vote, Republicans are preventing qualified nominees from ever reaching the floor.
One of the blocked nominees is Robin Rosenbaum of Florida, who would fill a district court seat so short of judges that it has been formally declared an emergency by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts. A unanimous panel of the American Bar Association has given her its highest rating, finding that she is well qualified to serve as a district court judge. She has the support of her home-state senators, Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Marco Rubio.
She would fill a vacancy that opened up more than a year ago. Also sabotaged today were efforts to fill courtrooms in the Eastern District of Michigan and in the Federal Circuit. Every day these courtroom remain empty, Americans seeking to protect their rights are met with more and more delay, making justice less and less a part of the American way of life.