The Third Circuit’s judicial emergency is the second-oldest circuit emergency in the country. Only the Fifth Circuit has had an emergency for longer. Judge Scirica went senior in July of 2013, and his seat remains empty, well over two years later.
And no one has even been nominated yet for the Third Circuit’s second empty seat, fully four months after Judge Rendell went senior, and nine months after she announced that she would.
The upshot? Third Circuit IOP 3.1 provides:
Unless there is a judicial emergency, each panel includes either two active judges of this court or one active judge and one senior judge of this court.
But because of the judicial emergency, the Third Circuit’s active judges are now playing a radically smaller than normal role in shaping its precedent: four out of the last five CA3 published opinions were issued by panels with a single active judge and two senior judges.
The last Republican administration forcefully condemned delays in confirming its judges. It blasted the idea that it was okay “to leave these critical seats empty.” It said, “the American people deserve better” It said, “we need our government to be at full strength.”
We still do.
Plus D.N.J. now has four judicial emergency vacancies, more than any other district in the country.
(How can that be since both of NJ’s senators are Democrats? Well, reportedly Senate Majority Leader McConnell told a radio show in June that “‘the only judges we’ve confirmed have been federal district judges that have been signed off on by Republican senators’ and it was ‘highly likely’ that pattern would continue.”)
In 2008, Republican presidential candidate John McCain had it right: “Elections have consequences. One of the consequences is the president of the United States gets to name his or her nominees to the bench.”