In June, The Oklahoman reported that U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert E. Bacharach didn’t have enough Republican support in the Senate to be confirmed for the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals before the November elections because the selection and confirmation process for the seat is taking too long.
Though delaying tactics are common for the party that doesn’t control the White House — the goal is to delay making lifetime appointments to federal courts in hopes their party will regain the White House and the power to fill judicial vacancies — Oklahoma legal leaders are urging the state’s U.S. senators to use their “considerable influence” to end the confirmation stalemate, The Oklahoman reports.
President Obama nominated Judge Bacharach to fill Judge Robert Henry's vacancy on the Tenth Circuit in January. At the time, Oklahoma's senators, Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn, expressed their support for Bacharach's nomination. Sen. Inhofe commented to The Oklahoman, "I like the guy ... it's not very often the White House and I agree on anything."
But after Obama nominated Bacharach in January, it took more than three months to schedule a committee hearing for Bacharach while Senate staff conducted a background investigation. When the Senate voted to confirm Arizona Supreme Court Justice Andrew Hurwitz for a seat on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on in June, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Republican senators there would be no other votes on circuit judges this year.
That news didn't please the Tenth Circuit legal community.
Attorneys who represent Oklahoma with the American Bar Association criticized the delay in a letter urging Sens. Tom Coburn and Jim Inhofe to announce publicly their willingness to vote on Robert E. Bacharach's nomination to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals before Congress breaks for recess in August.
"We understand that both political parties have engaged in a variety of stalling tactics, including the threat of a filibuster, regarding judicial nominations in the past ... However, this ignores the fact that this Oklahoma slot on the Tenth Circuit has now been vacant for over two years."
Congress will be recessed from August 6 until September 10. As it's an election year, you can expect one-third of the Senate to be campaigning away from Washington even when sessions resume.
With mere weeks left to pass actual legislation before the break, it's unlikely that condemnation from the Oklahoma legal community will spur the Senate to act on Judge Bacharach's confirmation process.
- Obama Nominates Judge Robert Bacharach to Tenth Circuit (FindLaw's Tenth Circuit Blog)
- Obama Nominates Caitlin Halligan, Sri Srinivasan to D.C. Circuit (FindLaw's DC Circuit Blog)
- Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals (US Courts)