From Fri Apr 23 03:08:04 1999
Date: Thu, 22 Apr 1999 08:02:42 -0400
From: judy-doc List Owner 
Subject: Lack of Judges = Lack of Justice

[Note from Judydoc:  I wonder how much of this backlog in the Federal
courts is due to ERISA cases that should have been tried in STATE Courts
were it not for ERISA.  Just as much of the increased work load in ER's
is coming from the large numbers of uninsured in our present system and
the fact that even those with insurance have a difficult time getting
an appointment to see their doctors when they have an urgency or
emergency and still end up in the ER's (with their HMO approval

Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy:

        "Yesterday I addressed the Senate on our need to vote on judicial 
nominations. I learned last year that lecturing the Republican leadership 
about the Senate^s duty to the judicial branch under the Constitution and 
citing emergencies, caseloads and backlogs in many courts around the country 
would not do the trick, so I again compared the Senate^s pace in confirming 
judges and Mark McGwire^s home run pace. 

        I noted that I am going to have to start comparing the Senate^s pace 
to the home run pace of American League pitchers. Since the American League 
uses designated hitters rather than having their pitchers bat, the Senate has 
a chance of keeping up with them. It is already mid-April and the Senate has 
yet to act on a single judicial nominee. This Committee has yet to hold a 
confirmation hearing. 

        Of course, last year the Senate had gotten off to an early lead on 
Mark McGwire. Last January through the end of April, the Senate had confirmed 
22 judges. McGwire starting to catch up once baseball season started but it 
took him 10 weeks last year to catch and pass the Senate total. 

        This year, McGwire passed the Senate^s total on opening day. That is 
because this year the Senate has yet to confirm a single federal judge. That 
is right: In spite of the 33 judicial nominations now pending, in spite of 
the fact that at least a dozen of those nominees have been pending before the 
Senate for more than 9 months, in spite of the fact that four of those 
nominations were favorably reported by the Senate Judiciary Committee and 
were on the Senate calendar last year, in spite of the 67 vacancies including 
28 judicial emergency vacancies, the Senate has yet to confirm a single 
federal judge all year. 

        Incredibly Mark McGwire is still on pace with what he accomplished 
last year. He has hit four home runs in his first seven games. Regrettably, 
the Senate is not on any pace. The Senate has gone 0 for January, February 
and March. It is threatening to go 0 for April, as well. 

        By this time last year, the Senate had confirmed over 20 judges. By 
this time last year, we had held four confirmation hearing for judges. 

        During the four years that the Republican majority has controlled the 
Senate, it has not even kept up with attrition on the federal bench. Even 
with the confirmations achieved last year, the current vacancies number more 
than existed at the time the Senate recessed in 1994. The Senate has not made 
the progress it should have in filling the longstanding vacancies that 
continue to plague the federal judiciary. 

        The New York Times ran a front-page story recently on how the 
crushing workload in the federal appellate courts has lead to what the Times 
called a ^two-tier system^ for appeals. In testimony and statements over the 
last few years, I have seen Chief Judge Winter and former Chief Judge Newman 
of the Second Circuit, Chief Judge Hug and Judge Trott of the Ninth Circuit 
and Chief Judge Hatchett of the Eleventh Circuit all warn of the problem of 
too few judges and too much work. I deeply regret that these twin problems 
have combined to lead to the perception that the federal appellate courts can 
no longer provide the same attention to individual cases that has marked the 
federal administration of justice in the past. 

        The only thing the Judiciary Committee does not ^hold^ any more is 
judicial confirmation hearings. I recall in 1994-- the most recent year in 
which the Democrats constituted the majority-- when the Judiciary Committee 
held 25 judicial confirmation hearings, including hearings to confirm a 
Supreme Court Justice. By April 15, 1994, we had held five hearings involving 
21 nominees, and the Committee had reported 18 nominations and the Senate had 
confirmed 19. This year the Committee has reported two nominations and posted 
goose eggs across the rest of the board. 

        The Senate continues to tolerate upwards of 67 vacancies in the 
federal courts with more on the horizon-- almost one in 13 judgeships remains 
unfilled and, from the looks of things, will remain unfilled into the future. 
The Judiciary Committee needs to do a better job and the Senate needs to 
proceed more promptly to consider nominees reported to it. Already this year 
the Senate has received 33 judicial nominations. Unfortunately, past delays 
mean that 28 of the current vacancies, over 40 percent, are already judicial 
emergency vacancies, having been empty for more than 18 months. A dozen of 
the nominations now pending had been received in years past. The nomination 
of Judge Paez to the Ninth Circuit dates back over three years. The 
nominations of Tim Dyk, Marsha Berzon, Justice Ronnie White and many other 
date back to last year. 

        I again urge the Senate to take seriously its responsibilities and 
help the President fill the longstanding vacancies in the federal courts 
around the country. Today the score is running against the prompt and fair 
administration of justice-- vacancies 67, nominations 33, confirmations zero. 

Here are the members of the Committee, and below, I have created a 
cut-and-paste list of addresses for the committee if you wish to write to 
them on this (or other) issues
Senate Judiciary Committee Members:

Orrin Hatch, UT   
Chairman Strom Thurmond, SC     
Chuck Grassley, IA     
Arlen Specter, PA     
Jon Kyl, AZ     
Mike Dewine, OH     
John Ashcroft, MO     
Spencer Abraham, MI     
Jeff Sessions, AL     
Bob Smith, NH      

Patrick Leahy, VT    Ranking Member 
Edward Kennedy, MA     
Joseph Biden, DE     
Herb Kohl, WI     
Dianne Feinstein, CA     
Russell Feingold, WI     
Robert Torricelli, NJ     
Charles Schumer, NY 

To write to the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee just cut & paste 
these addresses, put them in your address book as Senate Judiciary
Committee for future use, or use the links provided:

and Charles Schumer has a website from which you can now send emails:

Top of Page

Uncivilization and its Discontents

Insurance Page

Home Page

Email me, Bill Hammel at
bhammel AT graham DOT main DOT nc DOT us

The URL for this document is:
Created: April 23, 1999
Last Updated: May 28, 2000