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Democrats Urged to ‘Redouble’ Court Confirmations Until 2023 (1)

Nov. 7, 2022, 5:08 PMUpdated: Nov. 8, 2022, 12:19 AM

The Democratic-led Senate must use the remaining time this Congress to “redouble” efforts to confirm Joe Biden’s pending judicial nominees—no matter the outcome in the midterm elections, more than 200 groups said Monday.

“We urge you to continue making history by confirming all judicial nominees who are and will be pending action by the full Senate before the end of this Congress, and we look forward to continuing to work with you to build a judiciary that lives up to its promise of equal justice under law,” the groups said in a letter to Senate Democrats one day before voters go to the polls.

The letter from progressive, civil rights, labor, and environmental organizations comes with Democratic control in a 50-50 Senate in jeopardy. If Republicans pick up just one seat, it would hand them control of the chamber tasked with vetting and confirming judicial nominees, putting a damper on one of Biden’s biggest accomplishments.

Progressive groups pressured Senate Democrats over the summer to expedite nominees with midterms approaching to maximize the number of selections who could be confirmed in the year’s closing months.

Republicans are likely to slow the pace of confirmations, particularly to circuit courts, if they win back the majority in the chamber. The last time Republicans controlled the Senate under a Democratic president was during the Obama administration, and just two circuit nominees were confirmed in two years.

The groups reaching out now include The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Alliance for Justice, National Women’s Law Center, and People for the American Way.

As it stands, 45 district and 12 circuit nominees to lifetime appointments are pending in the Senate. Of that, 25 await floor votes: 21 that could be brought up for the test vote that precedes a confirmation vote, and four that need a vote on a discharge motion after their nomination tied in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Senate so far has confirmed 83 of Biden’s lower court nominees.

“We know that there are many pressing issues to address in the coming weeks and months. But we urge you to remember that a judiciary that values and upholds equal justice and the protection of civil rights for all is one of the critical ways we protect and strengthen our democracy,” the groups wrote.

The Senate is scheduled to return Nov. 14. Its first vote will be to end debate, or invoke cloture, on Maria Del R. Antongiorgi-Jordan for the US District Court for the District of Puerto Rico.

(Updates with information about a GOP-led Senate.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Madison Alder in Washington at malder@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com; John Crawley at jcrawley@bloomberglaw.com