PA Emblematic of National Judicial Nomination Problem

Pennsylvania needs judges. National news magazine The Atlantic reported Sunday on the state’s Middle District. The 32-county area so severely lacks federal judges that the situation has reached crisis.

The problem? Republican leadership in the Senate that has refused out of hand to vote on prospective judges, and an Obama administration that takes an inordinate amount of time to choose nominees.

From Andrew Cohen:

While the Senate fiddles, what’s life like for the current judges of the Middle District? Very difficult. Judges frequently have to drive three hours or more a day to handle cases in Williamsport.. The aforementioned Judge Caputo, who is in his early 70s, carries the most cases of any of the judges — more than 500 civil and criminal combined — despite his senior status. “He’s hanging in because he feels like he is letting the court down if it doesn’t, Judge Jones says of his colleague. “Because of the judge he is he won’t relent.” But compared to some of his other colleagues in the Middle District, however, Judge Caputo is practically a kid.

Sitting in senior status, picking up the slack for the empty full-time benches, are Judge Edwin M. Kosic, Judge William J. Nealon, Judge Richard P. Conaboy and William W. Caldwell — all of these men are at least 86 years old. Two other Middle District Judges in senior status — Judge Sylvia H. Rambo and Judge James M. Munley — are both over 76 years old. “All have a substantial case load,” Judge Jones says, “but we’ve created this absurdity where we are leaning on aging” and perhaps frail senior judges. Judge Nealon, for example, a remarkable jurist by any standard, has more than 150 cases — at age 89.

Sen. Toomey, the Pennsylvania Republican, refused comment for this story. His Democratic counterpart, Sen. Bob Casey, would say only that both sides “need to come together to fill these critical positions” and that “the real-life consequences of delay are unacceptable.” Both men, it is fair to say, don’t want to say anything publicly to tick off the Republican leadership in the Senate, leadership which already has announced to the world that it intends to confirm no more of President Obama’s federal appellate nominees by invoking what’s become known as the “Thurmond Rule.”

Read the full story here.

9 Responses

  1. @sue, if you think that this is only a Republicans obstructing Democrats thing, you are sorely mistaken.

    The use of the filibuster to ensure qualified candidates with moderate views has been long established. For example, Obama voted to deny cloture when Democrats filibustered Alito’s nomination, even though he paid lip service to his current position the day before by telling George Stephanopoulos “there is an over-reliance on the part of Democrats for procedural maneuvers and mechanisms to block the president instead of proactively going out to the American people and talking about the values that we care about.” Procedural issues need to be assessed as if the majority-minority status quo were reversed.

  2. We have a choices in this November election. If you happy with Casey then vote for him? But if you dissatisfied with Casey vote for tom smith but if you dissatisfied with both candidate write in a candidate. And Toomey well he will not have a election till 2016 or if he die or got corrupt they might be a special election if it that happen.

  3. sorry Mary, you may be an accountant but you are still really ignorant of the judicial nominating and consenting process.Toomey has aided the obstruction by filibuster that is breaking the judicial system just like he has obstructed all efforts to improve our economy. Just the facts, ma’am-oh, and ARITHMETIC

  4. Can you guys stick to rebuttal without name calling? Because I was employed in the professional world of accounting, I find it astonishing that anyone will even consider giving these Democrats another term. I know I would have been handed my box of personals had I neglected to create the company’s budget for 4 years.
    Secondly, the reason Republicans have to hold off more appointments by such extreme measures is because Democrats consider Ms Fluke a shining example of a legal mind. Ridiculous! But the problem will get worse rather than better until they clear out the Lib havens that are law schools and stop them from mass reproducing more Lib clones. Conservatives do have a defendable point of view, you know. Even if you would rather not be bothered taking the time to hear and consider it.

  5. Can’t fill judicial posts without passing a filibuster and a senator toomey’s hold put on judicial nominees the president put forward. we know that mcconnell is leading the filibuster everything charge. the chips will fall where they may, right at the republican senate leaderships’ doorstep. to make congress more functional, just vote out republicans…it’s that easy!

  6. Mary— you are yet another example of how conservatives will find a way to be willfully ignorant to simple problems. Budgeting has nothing to do with Judicial appointments. Instead of acknowledging that the GOP is being willfully destructive to our judicial system simply to score political points, you attack Democrats for some contrived “failure of leadership” on a completely unrelated subject. You, in short, are what is wrong with this country. Disgusting.

  7. In a Senate where the majority party would not offer a budget, and the Presidents budget received zero votes, Toomey wrote HIS OWN budget. He clearly accepts the responsibility of a Senator, unlike all-talk Casey. It is Democrats who refuse to do their jobs at all levels, and yes, that effects even Pennsylvania.

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