What is it about Senators from Arizona that causes such a bad taste in my mouth? Senator John McCain was a liberal Republican that masqueraded as a moderate. I did not agree with his politics, but I considered him to be a gentleman – at least until his funeral. He could have gone out as a class act, but he – or his family – chose otherwise. A comparison between the McCain funeral and the funeral for President George H.W. Bush did not leave McCain looking good!
Then there is Senator Jeff Flake who is also from Arizona. He did not run for re-election because the polls were not looking good for him. Apparently, the people in Arizona were wise to him and wanted him out. Republicans could not depend on him to support conservative principles, and his hatred for Donald Trump brings out bad behavior from him. His holier-than-thou attitude during the Senate hearings on Judge Brett Kavanaugh made things more difficult for the Republicans as he just wanted to make sure that everything was above board – as he sided with the Democrats. Now he is on his high horse once more. He is seeking the limelight again and proving why he was not doing well in the polls. He will not be missed!
Recently Flake took a stand on judges. Even though Robert Mueller continues to waste taxpayer money while looking for a connection between President Donald Trump and Russia, Flake insists on a vote to protect Mueller. He does so by refusing to fulfill his duties on the Senate Judiciary Committee and vote to move confirmation votes to the Senate floor.
The committee was scheduled to advance six Circuit Court nominees, 15 District Court nominees and several bipartisan bills, but the hearing had to be cancelled due to Flake’s stand on Mueller. Flake says that he will “vote against judicial nominees on the floor and in committee unless Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) schedules a vote on the bipartisan special counsel legislation.” Flake does not want just any vote; he wants a binding floor vote or none at all.
Meanwhile, Flake is slowing down confirmations on conservative judges because the Senate is so narrowly divided. With only 51 Republican Senators, McConnell cannot afford to lose one vote, so he is being held hostage by Flake. It does not seem to matter to Flake that the nation is in a “crisis” situation because so many judge positions are vacant. Thomas Jipping compares the situation now with past years when a similar situation was determined to be a “vacancy crisis.”
Today, 126 positions on the U.S. District Court and U.S. Court of Appeals are vacant. In fact, we’re in the longest period of triple-digit vacancies in 25 years. But the raw numbers don’t tell the full story, so, since the partisan environment is so bitter, let’s apply some standards advocated by Democrats to put these numbers in perspective.
Vacancies today are 52 percent higher than when Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., declared a “vacancy crisis” in July 2016. They are 88 percent higher than in September 2015, when then-Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., warned that “we are heading into a judicial vacancy crisis.”
In April 2014, Leahy also said it was fair to compare vacancies today with vacancies at the same point in previous administrations. Vacancies are 16 percent higher than at this point under President Barack Obama, 110 percent higher than under President George W. Bush, and 103 percent higher than under President Bill Clinton.
The 126 vacancies put the “vacancy crisis” even higher than either Booker or Leahy faced. Jipping has other numbers to prove his case that we are in a greater “vacancy crisis” than at any point in recent administrations, and Flake is not helping the cause at all.
The administrative Office of the U.S. Courts designates as “judicial emergencies"
In March 2012, Democratic Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill., said that 35 judicial emergency vacancies would cause the administration of justice to suffer “at every level.” Not only are judicial emergencies 80 percent higher today, but they have been open an average of 24 percent longer than when Durbin warned about this crisis.
About 45 federal judges leave their position each year, and Senate Democrats have complained when judicial confirmations do not keep up with attrition – at least when there is a Democratic president. Vacancies today are 17 percent higher than when President Donald Trump took office. Four of the previous five presidents saw vacancies decline by an average of 24 percent at this point.
Any intelligent person can see that there truly is a “vacancy crisis” as well as “judicial emergencies.” Flake acting like a flake is not helping the matter at all. Americans can hope that the Senate can move forward on confirming judges as soon as Flake is out of the Senate. It looks like Arizona did Americans a favor by not returning Flake to the Senate.
The governor of Arizona recently appointed Martha McSally to the seat that John McCain once held. It is a temporary appointment for two years until the next scheduled election for the seat. However, conservative McSally will be a welcome addition to the Senate. With both McCain and Flake being undependable Republicans, it will be nice to have a conservative there to offset the newly elected Democrat. Hopefully, the Senate will move full steam ahead as soon as they are back in session in January 2019.