A group called “Why Courts Matter Iowa” will deliver a batch of pipes and petitions to two of Senator Chuck Grassley’s Iowa offices today. Matt Sinovic, a spokesman for the group, says Grassley — as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee — is failing to confirm nominees for federal judgeships.
“Senator Grassley is on pace to be the most obstructionist Judiciary Committee chair since 1953,” Sinovic says.
Grassley took over as Judiciary Committee chairman in January. The committee conducts hearings and votes on the people the president nominates to serve as federal judges. A handful of nominees have made it through that process so far this year.
“There are 67 vacancies across the country, including 31 that have been declared judicial emergencies and what that means is that these vacancies have been languishing so long that Americans are waiting for their day in court,” Sinovic says. “According to the Alliance for Justice, the total number of days for those 67 vacancies that have been open is for 28,533 days.”
The group has collected petition signatures from 12-hundred people. The group’s delivering pipes as well as the petitions to Grassley’s office because Grassley recently told a New York senator his committee was “moving at a reasonable pace.”
“So put that in your pipe and smoke it, senator from New York,” Grassley said, to laughter in the senate.
Grassley points to the 11 judges who were confirmed late in 2014, after the election, but Sinovic says that’s when a Democrat was still chairman of the committee.
“And really the obstruction has started and has become much, much worse since Senator Grassley took over,” Sinovic says. “The 67 vacancies across the country has more than doubled since the beginning of the year.”
Ten percent of judgeships in the federal courts are currently vacant. Grassley says judges are being confirmed at a faster rate in President Obama’s presidency than during President Bush’s. At this point in Bush’s second term, the senate had confirmed 283 judicial nominees. The Senate has confirmed 34 more than that for President Obama.