Black Activists Condemn Senator Leahy's Promise to Renew Judicial Obstruction
Justice is Not Served When a Large Number of Courts Have Needless Vacancies, Group Says
For Release: December 14, 2006
Contact: David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 x11
In comments made at the Georgetown University Law Center December 13, incoming Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) implied that he plans to continue obstructing President George W. Bush's constitutional mandate to appoint federal judges. Accordingly, members of the Project 21 black leadership network are renewing their demand for fair and timely consideration of judicial nominees.
"Senator Leahy's comments are disgraceful and hypocritical, but they are certainly not out of character," said Project 21 Chairman Mychal Massie. "For the past six years, Senator Leahy and his liberals colleagues have openly and shamelessly engaged in the obstruction, character assassination and abuse of their committee responsibilities with regard to judicial nominees."
In his speech, Senator Leahy criticized the Bush Administration's efforts to keep tabs on suspected terrorists, and said the Judiciary Committee "has a special stewardship role over the national charter and over our most cherished rights as Americans." With regard to judicial nominations, he criticized the President for not selecting "consensus nominees," and suggested the formation of a bipartisan commission to help in the selection of judicial nominees.
However, notes Project 21, the Constitution, in Section 2 of Article II, explicitly gives to the President alone the authority to appoint judges, "with the Advice and Consent of the Senate."
There are currently 51 judicial vacancies, with 24 of these vacancies considered "judicial emergencies" due to a court's large caseload and extended vacancies. In the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, for example, a vacancy to which Judge Terrence Boyle has been nominated has already been open for 4,519 days. Judge Boyle's nomination was repeatedly blocked in previous sessions, and is expected to languish in the 110th Congress should he be re-nominated - prolonging the vacancy.
"The Senate is charged with providing advice and consent on a President's judicial nominees, but Senator Leahy and his colleagues have sought to usurp the Constitution with litmus tests and obstruction throughout the Bush Presidency," adds Massie. "As a result, justice is not being served. Courts are suffering because nominees are not allowed to receive hearings and votes so they may get to work on the people's business. This must change. Senator Leahy's comments, however, do not speak well of him as he prepares to take on the solemn responsibility of heading the Senate Judiciary Committee."
Project 21, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization, has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 x11 or Project21@nationalcenter.org, or visit Project 21's website at http://www.project21.org/P21Index.html.
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