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Hispanics for a Fair Judiciary

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AS 111TH CONGRESS ADJOURNS, HFJ DECRIES UNPRECEDENTED OBSTRUCTION OF DIVERSE NOMINEES

Dec 22, 2010

Today’s confirmation of Murguia welcomed, but too many qualified nominees have been denied a vote at all

WASHINGTON, DC – While HFJ applauded the Senate’s confirmation today of Mary Murguia, nominated nearly nine months ago to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the 111th Congress adjourns with numerous well-qualified nominees whose nominations languished without ever receiving the courtesy of an up-or-down vote.

The slow pace of judicial nominee confirmations, due in large part to months of stall tactics by Senate Republicans, forced the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts to declare dozens of judicial emergencies where vacant judgeships had caused damaging backlogs of cases. The Senate's actions this week relieve some—but not all—of these urgent situations.

During the 111th Congress we have also seen obstruction and delaying tactics have a disproportionate impact on qualified minority nominees. As a coalition committed to diversity in our judiciary, we find this trend particularly disturbing. For example, in yesterday’s debate on the nomination of William Martinez to the U.S. District Court in Colorado, Senator Jeff Sessions offered ideological litmus tests for opposing Martinez, citing his service as a board member of the ACLU, without being able to produce a single argument against Martinez’s nomination based on his own record. Similar to the attacks on then-nominee Sonia Sotomayor for her past service on the board of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, such attacks deserve to be rejected.

This new standard of scoring cheap political points at the expense of the stability and efficiency of our nation's judicial system simply cannot continue. With the Senate concluding its 2010 work today, the diverse and qualified slate of nominees who fell victim to obstructionism will have to be nominated anew. In some cases, such as with Circuit Court nominee Goodwin Liu, they will be nominated for a third time. The American people have pleaded for cooperation and responsibility from their representatives in Congress—we hope that the Senate will heed those calls and end their obstructionist politicking in 2011.

Hispanics for a Fair Judiciary (HFJ) was formed in April 2005 in order to provide Hispanic leaders across the nation a platform and voice in matters related to our nation's judicial system. HFJ is an unaffiliated, non-partisan, independent network of elected officials, legal, civil rights, labor, academic and political leaders who care deeply about the impact that the Supreme Court has on the Latino community.

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