Less than three months after Senate Democrats eliminated the filibuster
for blocking presidential nominations, an alliance of liberal groups is pressuring President Obama to put forward more judges who have backgrounds working for labor unions and public interest organizations.
The Alliance for Justice is lobbying the White House to "broaden the bench" and released a report
last week calling for more "professional diversity" among federal judges.
"Now that only a simple majority vote is required to break filibusters on district and circuit court nominations, the time is ripe to fill a growing number of judicial vacancies with judges who are not only exceptionally well-qualified, but who also reflect the full diversity of the legal profession," said the report, which was released at a Capitol Hill forum that included keynote remarks by Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
The report said that 85 percent of Obama's judicial nominees have worked as corporate lawyers or prosecutors, and less than 4 percent "have significant experience representing workers in labor and employment disputes."
Critics argue that it is the latest partisan campaign to shape the federal courts with judges who are more aligned with the coalition's liberal politics, reports The Washington Times
"These groups are scrambling for a new way to pack the courts," Andrew Kloster, an analyst on the federal courts at the Heritage Foundation, told the newspaper.
"Just having diversity of skin color or gender isn't enough to get what these liberal groups are really after, which is a certain type of political agenda."
The White House said Obama has nominated record numbers of female, minority and gay judges, noting that of the 64 judicial nominees awaiting Senate confirmation, 27 are women, 12 are black, five are Hispanic, four are Asia-American, three are gay and one is American Indian, according to the Times.
They represent "an unprecedented commitment to expanding the gender, racial sexual orientation and experiential diversity of the men and women who enforce our laws and deliver justice," the administration said.
The Alliance for Justice is also urging Senate Democrats to change its rules to speed up votes on pending judicial nomination, according to the Times.
The Heritage Foundation's Kloster said that nominees' backgrounds should be irrelevant.
"Any president should consider and nominate judicial candidates based solely on their character and fitness, their competency and their integrity," he said. "And the Senate should confirm candidates who have integrity, never mind where they come from."
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