Senate GOP’s Christmas Gift To Central Illinois Is An Unfunctioning Court

The Senate adjourned earlier this week, even though it confirmed only half of the 38 judicial nominees awaiting a vote on the Senate floor. And the overwhelming majority of the blocked nominees cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee without a single negative vote.

This failure to confirm even many of the most uncontroversial nominees is the culmination of a concerted GOP strategy to delay as many of President Obama’s judges as much as possible, and it leaves Obama with fewer judges confirmed than any recent president:

The Senate’s failure to even hold a vote on these nominees leaves the federal judiciary with record vacancies — approximately one in nine federal judgeships are now vacant.

Notably, three of these vacancies are on just one court. Of the four active judgeships on the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois, three are presently vacant, leaving the court’s chief judge as its only active member. Two of President Obama’s nominees to this court, James Shadid and Sue Myerscough, were unanimously approved by the Judiciary Committee for this excessively overburdened court. Yet none of Obama’s nominees to the Central District of Illinois received a vote in the 111th Congress.

This failure to confirm anyone to this Illinois court may be the most reckless legacy of the right’s obstruction of Obama’s judges, but it isn’t even the most absurd. One of the president’s blocked nominees, District of Oregon nominee Marco Hernandez, was previously nominated for the exact same job by President George W. Bush. Somehow, now that he’s an Obama nominee, the GOP has suddenly decided to throw up roadblocks before his confirmation.