Clinton accuses Senate of blocking his judicial nominations
September 27, 1997
Web posted at: 1:25 p.m. EST (1825 GMT)
LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas (CNN) -- President Clinton accused
Republicans Saturday of posing "a very real threat to our
judicial system" by blocking the appointment of dozens of
federal judges for political purposes.
"We can't let partisan politics shut down our courts and gut
our judicial system," Clinton said during his weekly radio
Across the nation, 100 federal judgeships are vacant. The
president said he has sent 70 nominations to the Senate this
year, but lawmakers have acted on only 18 -- two of them
Last year, the Senate confirmed just 17 judges, which Clinton
said was "the lowest election-year total in over 40 years."
He accused the Republican-led Senate of deliberate stall
tactics -- "the worst of partisan politics," he contended.
Clinton said the blocked nominations have delayed tens of
thousands of civil cases, involving such matters as the
collections of life insurance proceeds and Social Security
"Our courts are clogged with a rising number of cases," he
said in the address, broadcast during a four-day Arkansas
visit. "Our sitting judges are overloaded and overworked, and
our judicial system is strained to the breaking point."
Under the U.S. Constitution, the Senate has the power to
approve or reject the president's nominations for federal
judges, who are granted lifetime tenure.
Republicans argue that the appointment of judges is more than
just a numbers game, that senators are simply fulfilling
their constitutional duties by rejecting candidates they
believe are unfit for the job.
Republican Whip Tom DeLay of Texas said earlier this month
that judges "need to be intimidated. They need to uphold the
Constitution." If not, "We're going to go after them in a big