Ted Kaufman - United States Senator for Delaware

Kaufman Calls Republican Obstruction of Judicial Confirmations “Delay for Delay’s Sake”

Indiscriminate, partisan tactics to blame for “judicial emergency” in Delaware

July 29, 2010

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Ted Kaufman (D-DE) on Thursday joined eight Democratic Senators, including senior Delaware Senator Tom Carper, in criticizing the Republican’s tactic of indiscriminately blocking confirmation votes for President Obama’s judicial nominees. Calling it “delay for delay’s sake,” Kaufman cited nearly 100 unnecessary judicial vacancies across the country.

Of these vacancies, more than 40 are considered “judicial emergencies” – including one in the District of Delaware. As of tomorrow, thanks to an anonymous Republican hold on the nomination of Judge Leonard P. Stark that has lasted over a two and half months so far, Delaware will be operating with only 2 out of 4 district judges to the bench.
 
“I don’t see the time created by the delay being used to meet with the nominee, to check the nominee’s credentials, or to review the nominee’s scholarship, speeches, or written opinions,” Kaufman said.  The Judiciary Committee, of which Kaufman is a member, held a nominations hearing for Judge Stark on April 22.  He received unanimous Committee approval on May 13.

Kaufman, arguing that no Senator has raised any public objection to Judge Stark’s nomination, expressed confidence “that Judge Stark will be confirmed by an overwhelming margin, perhaps unanimously, when he receives a final vote.”
 
“These nominees are good men and women who have agreed to put their lives on hold and submit to the scrutiny of the Senate in order to serve our nation,” Kaufman continued. “This body owes more to them for their sacrifices than to use them as instruments of delay and obstruction. As long as the minority continues to stall these nominees, then the American people will be deprived of the fair and efficient administration of justice.”  

Full remarks, as prepared for delivery:

Mr. President, I rise to echo the comments of my colleagues and object to the tactics being used by the minority in this Congress to block and delay confirmation votes for President Obama’s judicial nominees.

I support this body’s longstanding tradition of respecting the rights of the minority.  This practice of indiscriminately blocking nominations, however, serves no legitimate purpose.  I don’t see the time created by the delay being used to meet with the nominee, to check the nominee’s credentials, or to review the nominee’s scholarship, speeches, or written opinions. 

This is delay for delay’s sake.  Of the 27 district court nominees confirmed during this Congress, only one has received a nay vote so far, but even she was confirmed by a vote of 96-1.  Not a single Republican objected to 26 out of 27 of these nominees, yet some Republican forced them to wait for weeks or months for an up-or-down vote. 

The minority may say that this is simply the way that things are in the Senate. But that is demonstrably not the case.

During the first Congress of the Bush administration, President Bush’s district court nominees waited an average of 25 days to be confirmed after being favorably reported out of the Judiciary Committee. 

This pace was set when Democrats were the majority party for most of the 107th Congress, and reflects a willingness to cooperate with President Bush in a bipartisan manner. 

In contrast, President Obama’s district court nominees have been pending for 74 days on average after being favorably reported out of committee. 

And this wait only seems to be getting longer.  Sharon Coleman of the Northern District of Illinois, the only judicial nominee to be confirmed so far during this month, waited almost 3 months to be confirmed 86 to zero. 

This is unacceptable.  These nominees are good men and women who have agreed to put their lives on hold and submit to the scrutiny of the Senate in order to serve our nation.  This body owes more to them for their sacrifices than to use them as instruments of delay and obstruction.

As long as the minority continues to stall these nominees, then the American people will be deprived of the fair and efficient administration of justice.  We now have nearly 100 judicial vacancies, and more than 40 of these vacancies have been declared judicial emergencies. 

One of these emergencies is located in the District of Delaware.  After tomorrow, the District will be operating at half-capacity with only 2 out of 4 District Judges confirmed to the bench. 

With this concern in mind, I urge my colleagues to agree to consider the nomination of Leonard P. Stark to the District Court of the District of Delaware without delay. 

Judge Stark was nominated on March 17th of this year; he received a nominations hearing on April 22nd, and the Judiciary Committee reported him by unanimous vote on May 13th. 

Ranking Member Sessions has called him a “fine nominee” whom he would support.  As of today, no Senator has raised any public objection to his nomination. 

So I am confident that Judge Stark will be confirmed by an overwhelming margin, perhaps unanimously, when he receives a final vote. 

However, he has remained on the Senate Executive Calendar for two and a half months now, without justification. 

Judge Stark has all of the qualities required to be a successful District Judge.  Since 2007, he has dutifully served the District of Delaware as a magistrate judge, and previously spent 5 years serving the District as an Assistant U.S. Attorney.  

In his career, he has established himself as a talented, dedicated, and humble public servant who possesses a strong work ethic and the highest integrity and intellect.

Judge Stark also has stellar academic credentials.  He is a summa cum laude graduate of the University of Delaware, a Rhodes Scholar, and a graduate of Yale Law School where he was an editor of the Yale Law Journal. 

Following law school, he clerked for Judge Walter K. Stapleton of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Through his experiences in private practice, as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, and as magistrate judge, Leonard Stark has developed the knowledge, skills and temperament to be an outstanding district court judge. 

###

 

###

Print this Page E-mail this Page