There are some anniversaries you don’t want to celebrate, and this month marks one of them. November 12 marked the one-year anniversary of Judge Luis Restrepo’s nomination to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Pennsylvania, a nomination that—one year later—languishes in the Senate due to Senate obstruction. As the Third Circuit seat remains vacant, cases continue to pile up and judges can’t keep pace with the caseload. And it’s not just the Third Circuit; this seat is just one of more than 65 current federal judicial vacancies across the country that are crippling our federal courts and denying access to justice for thousands of Americans.
To be clear, the Senate is not obstructing Judge Restrepo because he is unqualified for the job. In fact, the Senate unanimously confirmed Judge Restrepo to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania just two years ago. Before being appointed to the bench, he served as a magistrate judge, ran a successful private law practice, served as a public defender, and worked for the American Civil Liberties Union. He has taught legal classes at Temple University School of Law, the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and at Pierce College. He has had an exemplary legal career.
Given his qualifications, Judge Restrepo should have quickly sailed through the confirmation process. But that has not been the case. Judge Restrepo’s nomination remains stalled in the Senate, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has given no indication as to when Restrepo’s final Senate confirmation vote will take place—an unconventional move, given that uncontroversial judicial nominees are normally confirmed more quickly. In comparison, during President George W. Bush’s tenure, uncontroversial circuit court nominees took roughly half this time. This obstruction is simply inexcusable.
The above excerpt was originally published in The Huffington Post.
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