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Blame GOP for judicial vacancies

RE “PRESIDENT Obama has been too slow to name federal judges” (Editorial, Aug. 23, 2012): The Globe assigns President Obama too much, and Republicans too little, responsibility for the small number of appointments.

The editorial mistakenly repeats the Republican canard that the president has nominated too slowly. That may have been true in 2009, but Obama nominated twice as many in each of the two subsequent years and more than enough to facilitate Senate processing. As Senator Orrin Hatch, the former GOP chair of the Judiciary Committee, admonished in President George W. Bush’s administration, the lack of nominees for some vacancies does not excuse the failure to vote on nominees for others.

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Moreover, Obama has assiduously consulted with Democratic and Republican senators, seeking guidance and support. However, numerous GOP senators have not cooperated with the administration on nominations by opposing well qualified, consensus nominees and refusing to return blue slips on other strong, uncontroversial choices, so that the Senate may consider them.

When Obama has proffered exceptional nominees, like William Kayatta and Caitlin Halligan, for the very First and D.C. Circuit vacancies that the editorial mentions, Republicans have refused to accord the nominees floor votes.

This GOP recalcitrance has prevented courts from delivering justice. The confirmation wars must end for the good of the executive, the Senate, the judiciary, and the nation.

Carl Tobias

Richmond, Va.

The writer is a professor of law at the University of Richmond.

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