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7.15.16 Issue

Becki Brenner, for NCJW-Omaha Section

On June 27, the U.S. Senate voted 90-0 to confirm judge Robert F. Rossiter, Jr., to the federal bench in the District of Nebraska to fill an emergency vacancy.

The Courts Matter Coalition of Nebraska, a collection of Nebraska organizations united in efforts to ensure a functioning federal judiciary, praised the move, which brought to end one of the nation’s 30 federally recognized judicial emergencies, where cases have piled up to a critical level because the court is functioning below capacity.

“We are pleased that this vacancy is filled so that the District of Nebraska is fully staffed and can better manage their overloaded docket,” said Carol Bloch, of coalition member National Council of Jewish Women-Omaha. “However, more than 80 judicial vacancies still remain throughout the country — including on the U.S. Supreme Court. There are still 29 judicial emergencies, and 20 federal judicial nominations continue to languish on the Senate floor despite the support of their home state senators.”

“The Senate must work to ensure that this country’s independent judiciary can function properly,” said Rebecca Gonzalez of Nebraska Appleseed. “We urge Nebraska Senators Deb Fischer and Ben Sasse and their colleagues to do their job to ensure all Americans can have their day in court. Before senators leave for a seven-week break on July 15, we call on the Senate to consider all pending nominees, including the U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick Garland, so the Federal judiciary can fully function.” Court vacancies continue to hamstring the justice system at many levels because of Senate inaction, and more vacancies continue to rise. The Senate has allowed just 20 judicial nominees to be confirmed since last year. Judicial vacancies have nearly doubled since 2015, and since last year, the Senate has confirmed 18 judges, the fewest number in more than 50 years.

Today, there are 83 judicial vacancies, from the Supreme Court to district courts throughout the country. Judge Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court has been pending for more than 100 days without even a hearing from the Senate Judiciary Committee.

For too many Americans, this means costly delays to trials and hearings as they await their day in court. For most, justice delayed is justice denied.

Members of the Courts Matter Coalition of Nebraska are American Association of University Women in Nebraska, Anti-Defamation League – Plains States Region, B’nai B’rith – Henry Monsky Lodge, Omaha, Black Men United, Business and Professional Women in Nebraska, Center for People in Need, Citizens for Equal Protection, Latino American Commission in Nebraska, League of Women Voters of Greater Omaha, National Council of Jewish Women, Omaha Section, Nebraska Appleseed, Nebraskans for Civic Reform, Nebraskans for Peace, Northeast Nebraska Family Health Services, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, and Temple Israel – Social Justice Committee – Omaha.