Senator delays 5 judicial nominations, including that of lesbian

WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa today ignored the calls of national and home-state groups and delayed Judiciary Committee votes on five federal judicial nominees, including that of a lesbian.

Grassley, the committee’s ranking member, has routinely held back committee votes on judicial nominations for one, two, three or even six weeks, usually without providing a reason. Ninety-seven percent of President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees who have had committee votes scheduled have met with these delays, before confronting even greater obstruction on the Senate floor.

One of the five nominees is Pamela Ki Mai Chen who, if confirmed, would become just the fifth openly gay person to receive a lifetime federal judgeship and only the second Chinese-American woman on the federal bench.

On Wednesday, 16 Iowa and national groups sent Grassley a letter urging him to end these routine delays of judicial nominees, which have helped create a record vacancy crisis in the federal courts. In response, Grassley flaunted misleading statistics and failed to produce a reason why he has delayed nominees far more frequently than his predecessors.

Ignoring the groups' call, at a hearing today, Grassley postponed committee votes on four federal district court nominees and one nominee for the Court of International Trade. Three of the nominees would fill emergency vacancies. It has been more than two months since the committee heard testimony from the nominees and had the chance to ask follow-up questions.

“Sen. Grassley has chosen to put petty partisan politics over the wellbeing of our federal courts and the wishes of his constituents,” said Marge Baker, executive vice president of People For the American Way.

“Because they take place in committee, Grassley’s delaying tactics usually go under the radar, but that does not make them any less harmful. Grassley and his party are delaying these nominees just for the sake of delay. At a time when federal courts are struggling to meet the needs of Americans, that is simply irresponsible.”

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