Yesterday, Judge Richard G. Kopf expressed his puzzlement that President Obama has not formally nominated anyone to fill the judicial vacancy in the District of Nebraska. The vacancy was created when Judge Joseph F. Bataillon took senior status in October 2014. Judge Kopf noted that Nebraska's two senators (who are members of the Republican Party) have suggested that President Obama nominate Robert Rossiter, Jr., to fill the vacancy. Judge Kopf notes that judicial vacancies in Utah and Texas (states, like Nebraska, where both senators are members of the GOP) were filled by nominees who received the support for the senators. So why not Nebraska?
I do not know why President Obama has not nominated anyone to fill the Nebraska vacancy but I doubt it has anything to do with Mr. Rossiter being recommended. A look at the United States Courts website shows that between the United States district courts, the U.S. Court of International Trade, and the various United States circuit court of appeals, there are 58 judicial vacancies currently but only 16 nominees. A list of what judgeships are vacant is here. One can see that the vacancies are not limited to states where both senators are Republicans. Instead, the list also includes states with 2 Democratic senators and states with senators from more than one political party (trivia: two states have one independent senator).
The two recently confirmed judges that Judge Kopf compares to the vacancy in Nebraska both had their nominations pending for about 8 months before the Senate voted on them. President Obama is only going to be President for 18 months. But one has to assume that if a Republican wins the 2016 Presidential election in November the Senate is not going to fill any judicial vacancies after the first week in November. That means President Obama has less than 16 months to get nominees confirmed. If nominations take 8 months to process, then President Obama has about 8 months to make nominations. This assumes, of course
What do you think Mr. Torvik? Will the President pick up his pace for nominating people to judicial vacancies? If he does, will the need for speed help us or hurt us when it comes to rectifying President Obama's inexplicable failure to name us to the federal bench? Finally, neither of the states we live in seem to have a judicial vacancy (neither does Hawaii, unfortunately), how far are you willing to move?