Royce Lamberth, the chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, urged the Senate and White House on Monday to confirm more federal judges, according to the Blog of Legal Times..
“I say to both Republicans and Democrats: You’re injuring the federal judiciary,” Lamberth said during a panel discussion about judicial vacancies at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank. “Our country needs a fair and impartial federal judiciary.”
Lamberth said his court has all but stopped holding civil trials because its caseload of prisoner trials from the Guantanamo Bay military facility is so heavy. There are three vacancies on the D.C. court but two nominees, Trout Cacheris PLLC lawyer Amy Berman Jackson and D.C. Superior Court Judge James Boasberg, have been pending in the Senate since June.
The fight over judicial confirmations goes back at least to 1991, when Democrats tried to block Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. Republicans returned the favor during the Bill Clinton administration, blocking judicial nominees of the Democratic president. Democrats blocked Republicans during the George W. Bush years. And now Senate Republicans are slow-walking President Barack Obama’s nominees.
Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., a conservative, blasted both political parties for the delays in his recent year-end statement on the federal judiciary. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, has blamed Republicans for the delays and urged quicker action.
According to the BLT, Lamberth said he wants judges on his court to assume senior status as soon as they can. That’s because a judge on senior status can continue to hear cases while the White House and Senate start the increasingly laborious process of nominating and confirming a successor. “From my point of view, the sooner they take it the better, because then we can have some extra labor,” Lamberth said, according to the BLT.