With all of the attention on the presidential and congressional elections right now, it can be easy to forget that there’s a third branch of government. But the judicial branch is just as important – and it needs our help.
Our constitutional rights and individual liberties are protected by a strong and effective judiciary. But our courts are in crisis because of the “judicial emergency” created by vacancies in courtrooms nationwide. Why? Because an average of 1 out of every 10 judicial seats is vacant nationwide.
Ask your senators to help protect our freedoms by moving forward with judicial confirmations!
A strong judiciary is critical to American women. Not only can the federal courts be a shield for civil rights laws like Title IX and the Equal Pay Act, but they’re also often the last, best hope for women who have experienced discrimination in education, employment, health care, and in other aspects of their lives. Yet with the Senate dragging its heels, we’ve got 32 federal courts in a state of “judicial emergency,” which means there are far too few judges to keep up with all the cases. Half of these courts have pending nominees – but the Senate still hasn’t acted to fill those vacancies.
Furthermore, the slow confirmation process is also affecting the diversity of the courts. While President Obama has nominated an impressive number of women and people of color for the bench, that’s only half the battle. The only way to increase the diversity of the judiciary is for the Senate to confirm qualified nominees. Of the 32 nominees pending before the Senate, 19 of them are women or people of color. This is not acceptable.
To be sure, President Obama has not been nominating people to fill the vacancies as quickly as he could – and AAUW has told him that. But the fact remains that there are 32 nominees, 22 of whom have already been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, that the Senate could confirm when it returns from recess next month.
So that’s why we need you to send a message to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Ask your senators to urge Sens. Reid and McConnell to quickly call for confirmation of the federal judicial nominees from your state and move all consensus nominations to the Senate floor immediately for confirmation.
The vacancy crisis can have an easy solution, but we need your help. To send a letter to your senators, click the “Take Action” link or visit AAUW’s Two-Minute Activist.