At almost every Senate judicial confirmation vote, both political parties unleash a flurry of statistics about the high number of vacancies on the federal court benches. Democrats use the numbers to paint Republican senators as obstructionists. Republicans use numbers to blame the White House for being slow on nominations.
So who actually bears responsibility when a vacancy doesn't even have a nominee? Both sides do, according to a new study by Russell Wheeler, a Brookings Institution fellow and judicial confirmation process expert.
That is, at least as far as the Wheeler can discern about a nominations process generally conducted outside of public view. He looked at the history of nominations and the 84 actual and future vacancies on the district and circuit courts.