Republican ABA President Calls On Mitch McConnell To End Appeals Court Nomination Blockade

American Bar Association President Bill Robinson

American Bar Association President Bill Robinson

A week after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told his colleagues he intended to block every single appeals court nominee for the remainder of President Obama’s term, he is getting criticism from an unexpected source.

American Bar Association President Bill Robinson, a major Republican donor and Obama critic sent a letter this week to McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) encouraging the Republicans to end their obstruction of three appellate judges.

Robinson wrote that the group has “grave concern” about the number of judicial vacancies urged them to schedule floor votes on “pending, noncontroversial circuit court nominees before July and on district court nominees who have strong bipartisan support on a weekly basis thereafter.”

He wrote:

Three of the four circuit court nominees pending on the Senate floor are consensus nominees who have received overwhelming approval from the Senate Judiciary Committee. Both William Kayatta, Jr. of Maine, nominated to the First Circuit, and Robert Bacharach of Oklahoma, nominated to the Tenth Circuit, have the staunch support of their Republican senators. Richard Taranto, nominated to the Federal Circuit, enjoys strong bipartisan support, including the endorsement of noted conservative legal scholars. All three nominees also have stellar professional qualifications and each has been rated unanimously “well-qualified” by the ABA’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary.

With a growing number of vacancies on the federal bench, McConnell should recognize what Robinson and Chief Justice John Roberts have recognized as a judicial crisis and allow President Obama’s judicial nominees the same up-or-down votes he himself said were required by the U.S. Constitution during the George W. Bush administration.