WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a former member of the Senate Judiciary Committee (2007-2010), urged Senate Republicans to abandon their strategy of obstructionism that threatens to undermine the independence and functionality of federal courts in the United States.
“I am disappointed by Senate Republicans’ refusal to do their jobs and hold hearings on a potential Supreme Court nominee. Unfortunately, I am not surprised that Republicans in the Senate are confusing obstruction with leadership. Long before the decision to issue a blanket denial to meet with or hold a hearing on a potential Supreme Court nominee, the Senate Republicans were honing their obstructionist skills by refusing to hold routine votes on non-controversial lower court judges.
“More than a year into this new Congress, the Republican leadership has allowed only 16 judges to be confirmed. Contrast this to Senate Democrats’ record when we held a majority in the last two years of the Bush administration – by this same point, Democrats had already confirmed 40 judges. And in the election of 1988, a Democratic Senate confirmed President Reagan’s nominee Anthony Kennedy to the Supreme Court.
“Senator Mikulski and I took to the floor of the Senate to ask consent that two nominees, Paula Xinis of Maryland and Waverley Crenshaw of Tennessee, receive votes by the full Senate. President Obama nominated Ms. Xinis in March, 2015 and she was favorably reported out of the Judiciary Committee in July, 2015. Republicans objected on the grounds that other business was on the floor. The Senate is more than capable of walking and chewing gum at the same time, as we could confirm these nominees in a matter of minutes. We should be scheduling confirmation votes each week for the more than the dozen non-controversial, trial courts judges awaiting final Senate action. We should also schedule confirmation hearings for the more than two dozen nominees waiting for a hearing in the Judiciary Committee, including Stephanie Gallagher of Maryland. The Senate runs the risk of turning away the most qualified candidates to sit on the court because they do not want to endure such an unfair process. The people of Maryland and the American people are sick and tired of dysfunctional leadership in the Senate and will eventually demand that Senate Republicans do their jobs.”