The Senate Judiciary Committee created a new subcommittee this year to specifically oversee the federal courts and the nation's bankruptcy system, including administration and management, judicial rules, and the creation of new judgeships.
Last session's Administrative Oversight and the Courts Subcommittee has been split into two separate subcommittees for this session. Senator Richard Blumenthal will chair the new Oversight, Federal Rights and Agency Action Subcommittee, while Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) will become the chairman of the new Bankruptcy and the Courts Subcommittee.
Coons, a lawyer and the main proponent of a bill last year that reauthorized expired bankruptcy judgeships, said he will focus on a wide range of issues in his subcommittee hearings. "We have a judicial vacancy crisis in many parts of this country, and I'd like to look at what can be done to address it," Coons said in a written statement.
"Our federal courts have traditionally been the last bastion for many Americans to assert their civil rights, but recent federal court decisions have made it harder to not only enforce federal civil rights, but also rights that people may have as a consumer or as an employee under state law," Coons said. "That has to change."
Coons ran the Senate Judiciary Committee's first judicial nomination hearing of the new session this month. He also has met with attorneys at a roundtable about ways of improving the judicial nominations backlog. "As attorneys, you all see and feel the burden that comes with having vacant spots in our courts," Coons told them, according to his office.
Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who was chair last year of the now defunct oversight and the courts subcommittee , will now be the chair of the Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights Subcommittee. Klobuchar takes over that subcommittee from the retired Senator Herb Kohl (D-Wis.)
The judiciary committee approved the new subcommittees and their chairmen Thursday.