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Letter to Senators Reid and McConnell on Pending Judicial Nominations

December 11, 2012

Dear Majority Leader Reid and Minority Leader McConnell:

On behalf of more than three million members of the National Education Association (NEA), I urge Senate action before the end of the 112th Congress on all 20 federal judicial nominees who have been reported favorably from the Judiciary Committee and are awaiting final confirmation votes.  Likewise, NEA urges prompt consideration of all judicial nominees submitted to the 113th Congress.   

The federal judiciary is in a state of crisis, with a critical number of judgeships left vacant due to Senate inaction.  Over 100 seats on the federal bench are vacant or soon to be vacant.  The Senate’s failure to confirm widely-supported nominees has led to “judicial emergencies” on some courts that cannot keep up with filings due to long-term vacancies.  As a result, many hardworking Americans are finding it harder to access the federal courts to protect their rights and settle their grievances.   

Each of the 20 judicial nominees currently pending before the Senate is well qualified to serve on the federal bench.  Most enjoyed strong bipartisan support from the Judiciary Committee and have earned high ratings from the American Bar Association.  Many also reflect President Obama’s commitment to increasing diversity on the federal bench, including nominees who would be the first Filipino-American and first openly gay Latina federal judges in the country.  Doubtless, these nominees would be easily confirmed if they received an up-or-down confirmation vote.   

Prompt Senate action during this lame duck session will signal a renewed era of bipartisanship will pave the way for a fair and functional judicial confirmation process in the 113th Congress.  The NEA strongly urges confirmation votes on these 20 nominees without delay.  


Dennis Van Roekel