A posse of Atlanta lawyers plus a minister are heading to Washington on Monday at the invitation of President Obama to address the high judicial vacancy rate in federal courts.
The lawyers are Stephen Bright of the Southern Center for Human Rights; former State Bar president Jeff Bramlett, a partner at Bondurant, Mixson & Elmore; David Dreyer of Chamberlain Hrdlicka; and Neil Kinkopf, a law professor at Georgia State University. They will be joined by the Rev. Timothy McDonald, who is the president of Concerned Black Clergy.
The five Atlantans are among 150 supporters from 27 states whom the president has called to Washington for a strategy session with administration officials on pushing more of Obama’s nominees through the Republican logjam in the Senate.
The group will urge the Senate to hold up-or-down votes on all pending nominees, according to a statement from the American Constitution Society. Dreyer is on the executive committee of ACS’s Georgia chapter, and Bramlett is on the liberal legal group’s judicial nominations task force.
A deal between Senate Republicans and Democrats that will expire May 7 allows confirmation votes on nominees who’ve cleared the Judiciary Committee and then had their confirmations stalled. After the White House meeting, the delegation will meet with key senators, including Georgia Sens. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss, to urge them to resolve the confirmation delays.
There are 79 judicial vacancies in the federal courts and there have been more than 80 for almost three years—a vacancy rate of almost 10 percent for the federal judiciary, according to the Constitutional Accountability Center. That compares to 59 judicial vacancies at this point in Bill Clinton’s first term and 48 at this point in George Bush’s first term. In 37 cases, the courts have declared emergencies because of the length of vacancy and backlog of cases.