In April of 2010 — more than 15 months ago — President Obama nominated Edward Dumont to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. If confirmed, Dumont will be the first openly gay federal appellate judge in American history. Yet Dumont has yet to even receive a confirmation hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Republicans have yet to give more than the most cursory reason why they are holding up this nomination:
DuMont, also openly gay, was praised at the time [of his nomination] by scholars on the left and right. Eugene Volokh, a libertarian-leaning law professor at UCLA School of Law who described DuMont as a friend, spoke at the time about ”the apolitical, quality factors that Ed has going for him.”
Yet, despite the highest ranking – ”unanimously well qualified” – from the American Bar Association, DuMont has not had so much as a single hearing scheduled within the Senate Judiciary Committee on his nomination, which is a necessary step before scheduling the nomination for a committee vote.
Committee spokeswoman Erica Chabot told Metro Weekly on July 29, ‘‘Chairman Leahy has been prepared to move forward with this nomination for months, but has been trying to accommodate committee Republicans, who continue to not want to move forward with the nomination.”
Republicans claim that they are blocking Dumont because of unnamed “questions in Mr. DuMont’s background investigation” that they have not disclosed. Given the Senate GOP’s campaign of obstruction against President Obama’s judges, however, it is likely that their refusal to move forward with Dumont is nothing more than prong in their effort to bring judicial confirmations to a near standstill.
Thanks to the GOP’s refusal to allow votes on more than a handful of judicial nominees, the federal bench is facing its own shut down crisis. Existing federal judges are now retiring at twice the rate that new judges are being confirmed, and the confirmation rate under Obama is only slightly more than half that under his two predecessors at this point in their presidencies:
There is more than one way to shut down a government. The GOP can take the entire nation’s economy hostage and threaten a crippling default if the nation doesn’t accept their Tea Party agenda. It can simply refuse to pass any appropriations bills — a battle that we saw at the beginning of this year and will no doubt see again as the current appropriations run out on September 30th. Or the GOP can simply refuse to confirm anyone to essential positions, and hollow out the nation’s essential functions from the inside.