White House Counsel Calls For Senate To End Judicial ‘Cold War’

February 1, 2011 9:50 a.m.
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The Obama administration will try to forge a new path forward to get their judicial nominees through the Senate confirmation process, White House Counsel Bob Bauer said Tuesday. That plan would supposedly solve what Bauer termed a long-running “cold war” between Democrats and Republicans on judicial nominees.“We will do what it take to try to break through gridlock over some of these nominations,” Bauer said at an American Constitution Society panel. He said the judicial crisis creates “egregious delays for Americans seeking their day in court around the country.”

Bauer said there has been a disturbing lack of urgency in the political class about the crisis in the judicial system, but said he didn’t want to get into the typical finger-pointing about who is responsible for the crisis.

“The facts speak for themselves,” Bauer said, noting that the confirmation rate is perilously low and that the problem has been developing for a long time.

Numbers compiled by Senate Democrats in December said that the Senate saw the slowest pace of judicial staffing in a generation, with just 39.8 percent of Obama’s judges being confirmed.

But however the process got to this point, Bauer said that there is a growing recognition that “we can not in good conscious” allow it to continue.

“Republicans as well as Democrats increasingly acknowledge — some privately, some publicly — that we are witnessing something profoundly troubling,” Bauer said.

“If it is a war, and that’s a trope I don’t much care for, it is a cold and not a hot war,” Bauer said of the Senate confirmation process.

Bauer said the administration, which has come under criticism in some corners for not raising the issue more often, will continue to make the case for treating the confirmation of judges with a sense of urgency.

“The President’s nominees must receive a vote,” Bauer said. “The case in which a vote is denied should be rare.”

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