The U.S. Senate made history yesterday — recent history, at least. It confirmed Patty Shwartz, one of President Obama’s federal court nominees, as a judge on the 3d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
It only took 18 months to approve Shwartz, a U.S. Magistrate Judge in New Jersey. She was originally nominated in October 2011.
The vote had some Republican senators beaming with pride at the apparent speed with which they’d been recently approving the President’s nominees. Shortly before, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking minority member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, took a shot at the administration, saying that the President had yet to nominate anyone for 70 percent of the judicial vacancies.
“Quit complaining or get the nominees up here,” Grassley said.
And after, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) wondered how his colleagues could be blamed at all for obstructing the President’s nominees for the bench:
We just today confirmed the 10th judicial nomination of President Obama’s second term. Today. The 10th judicial nomination of President Obama’s second term. . . . So we have treated the president’s judicial nominees very, very fairly by any objective standard.
Well, “objective standards” must be relative, because the facts relating to the Senate’s inaction on Obama nominees, as laid out by Steve Benen at the MaddowBlog, tell a starkly different story:
By objective standards, Obama’s district court nominees have to wait three times as long as Bush/Cheney nominees before receiving a confirmation vote, and Obama’s circuit court nominees have to wait four times as long as Bush/Cheney nominees.
By objective standards, one of Obama’s D.C. Circuit nominees was rejected by a filibuster without cause, another D.C. Circuit nominee may soon face the same fate, and Senate Republicans have said they hope to prevent any Obama nominee from reaching this federal bench — at least until there’s a new president in 2017.
McConnell and his caucus blocked one Obama judicial nominee for 263 days, and then blocked another for 484 days, despite the fact that both enjoyed unanimous support in the Senate, which by “any objective standard” in insane.