WASHINGTON - With Congress looking toward its final week in session for 2010, Hispanics for a Fair Judiciary (HFJ) urged the Senate to confirm nominees for the federal bench pending on the House floor, such as Goodwin Liu and William J. Martinez. These nominees and others would fill vacancies on courts where “judicial emergencies” have been declared by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts due to the immense backlog of cases that the long vacancies have caused.
Goodwin Liu was nominated nearly 10 months ago on February 24 by President Barack Obama to serve on the Ninth Circuit Court of the United States to fill a seat that has been vacant over 675 days. Rated unanimously well qualified by the American Bar Association, Liu is a law professor at University of California, Berkeley and a renowned expert on constitutional and education law. Shortly after being nominated, Liu was approved by the Senate Judiciary committee, the final step before confirmation by the full Senate. However, Liu has spent more than six months awaiting an up-or-down vote. In that time, the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts has declared four of the Ninth Circuit vacancies as judicial emergencies, and hundreds of filings have piled up.
Also on February 24, President Obama nominated William J. Martinez for a seat on the U.S. District Court in Colorado that has been vacant for over two years. He, too, was quickly approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee but since April he has awaited a vote from the full Senate. Martinez has practiced law with distinction in Colorado and Illinois since 1980. He served as an attorney on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in the 1990s, and he was also deemed by the American Bar Association to be qualified to serve on the federal bench.
These are two members of the growing list of respected, qualified, and diverse judicial nominees who eagerly wait for confirmation by the full U.S. Senate. Not only would Liu, Martinez and many others make outstanding additions to the federal judiciary, but they are nominees for courts in desperate need of judges. The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has now identified over 50 judicial emergencies, representing thousands of backed up legal filings.
With 2010 in its waning days, now it is time—long past time, in fact—for the Senate to give these nominees an up-or-down vote.
Hispanics for a Fair Judiciary (HFJ) was formed in April 2005 in order to provide Hispanic leaders across the nation a platform and voice in matters related to our nation's judicial system. HFJ is an unaffiliated, non-partisan, independent network of elected officials, legal, civil rights, labor, academic and political leaders who care deeply about the impact that the Supreme Court has on the Latino community.