MADISON, Wis. — As Washington D.C. Republicans, including Sen. Ron Johnson, continue their unprecedented obstructionism on judicial nominees, State Rep. Chris Taylor, Wisconsin attorney Lester Pines and attorney Jenni Dye from One Wisconsin Institute joined the Why Court Matter coalition’s national day of action calling for a fair hearing and vote on President Obama’s nomination to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court. Judge Merrick Garland, who received bipartisan support for his earlier nomination to the federal bench, has now waited a record 168 days without a committee hearing or confirmation vote on his nomination to the nation’s high court.
Rep. Chris Taylor, an attorney and leading legislative advocate on women’s health issues, noted the critical role the federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have and will continue to play in protecting women’s rights to access comprehensive reproductive health care.
She said, “The federal courts are the last line of defense for women in Wisconsin and across the nation against Republican politicians interfering where they have no business. From protecting access to birth control to protecting the rights of women, along with their families and doctors, to make their own healthcare decisions, our courts matter.”
“Ron Johnson is at the forefront of an unprecedented campaign of obstructionism and abrogation of his duty as a United State Senator,” commented Attorney Lester Pines, who practices in federal court, on numerous issues including voting rights, reproductive health care and worker rights. “He is creating an intolerable situation that prevents our federal judiciary from working and leaving a patchwork of differing decisions and law across the nation.”
Wednesday marks the 168th day since Judge Garland was nominated to fill a vacancy on the United States Supreme Court. He has not been granted a hearing in Senate Committee nor a confirmation vote. A Supreme Court nominee has never had to wait longer than 125 days for a confirmation vote. Since the 1980s, every person appointed to the Supreme Court has been given a prompt hearing and vote within 100 days. In fact, 17 Supreme Court justices have been confirmed during an election year, including current Justice Kennedy, a nominee of President Reagan, who was confirmed by a Democratic Senate in 1988, a presidential election year.
In addition the Federal 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes Wisconsin, has the longest running vacancy in the nation with Sen. Johnson central to the obstructionism leaving it without a full complement of judges. It has been 2,549 days since the vacancy in 7th Circuit was announced and the nominee has still not been granted a confirmation vote in the full Senate.
“Our courts matter because they are where we turn to ensure people are treated equally and our rights are protected,” concluded One Wisconsin Institute Research Director Jenni Dye. “But Sen. Ron Johnson has chosen to march in lockstep with his Washington D.C. leadership instead of doing what’s best for Wisconsin. It’s time for him to quit playing politics with our courts and start doing his job.”