Leahy blasts GOP solons for nixing judgeship hearing

Republican lawmakers, angered by the recent low rate of Senate judge confirmations, blocked a Senate hearing on a bill the would boost the number of federal judgeships yesterday. And Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy is not happy about the move.

After GOP lawmakers – for the third time in a week – used the rarely invoked “two hour rule” to suspend a hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday, Leahy issued a statement expressing fury.

“Today Republicans added addressing the needs of the Federal judiciary to the now long list of hearings they have objected to in the last week,” Leahy said after the hearing on the Federal Judgeship Act of 2008 was suspended. “Republicans objected to the Judiciary Committee’s investigation into the use of coercive interrogation techniques. Republicans objected to the impact of Supreme Court decisions on the daily lives of all Americans. And today, the Republican minority has objected to a hearing requested by Judiciary Committee Republicans to examine legislation about the need for additional Federal judgeships.

“It would appear to an objective observer that Republicans believe they were elected to the United States Senate to thwart the oversight and legislative efforts of this body,” Leahy continued. “This now all too familiar pattern is childish and serves no good purpose.”

The bill would add 12 permanent seats to the circuits and 38 permanent seats to U.S. District Courts across the country. It would also make five temporary judgeships – one each in Arizona, Hawaii, Kansas, Missouri and New Mexico – permanent.

Two temporary seats would be created in the 9th Circuit and 14 temporary U.S. District Court seats would be created around the country. The bill would take effect the day after the next president is inaugurated.

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