GOP Senator Ditches His Own Judicial Nominee After Ignoring Court Vacancy For 2,323 Days

WASHINGTON — Sen. Ron Johnson( R-Wis .) merely can’t bring himself to play well with others.

He’s expended more than six years — 2,323 days, to be precise — singlehandedly preventing a vacancy on a court that encompasses his country from being filled. It’s the longest circuit court vacancy in the country.

That’s why it was a big deal Wednesday when the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing for Wisconsin lawyer Donald Schott, who would fill that seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. Sen. Tammy Baldwin( D-Wis .), Schott’s other home-state senator, introduced him with rave reviews. A few committee members peppered him with questions, but signaled no problems with his qualifications.

What did Johnson have to say? Who knows. He didn’t even show up.

Typically, both of a nominee’s senators come to these hearings to attain the best instance possible for corroborating the nominee. Schott was one of eight finalists for the seat suggested by the Wisconsin senators’ own committee. And Johnson previously joined Baldwin in turning in their “blue slips” for Schott — a procedural step that signals a senator is ready to advance a nominee in the committee.

Johnson spokesman Patrick McIlheran afterward told The Huffington Post that the senator missed Schott’s hearing because he was tied up in another previously scheduled committee hearing, which he had to chair. In a statement, Johnson reiterated that he’d turned in his blue slip for Schott, but didn’t elucidate if he was pushing to get the nominee confirmed.

“I signed the blue slip for Don Schott, recommending that the Judiciary Committee consider the nomination, which they did today, ” the senator said.

At least one Wisconsin senator was eager to introduce a home-statenominee to the Judiciary Committee.

Johnson’s make further efforts to stalling on filling the 7th Circuit seat fit into a broader GOP strategy of blocking nearly all of President Barack Obama’s judicial picks this year. That’s because Republican leaders would prefer to hold out until 2017, when Donald Trump might be in the White House( is this really happening ?) and is moving forward lifetime judicial nominees more to their liking.

The problem is that courts with vacancies can get so swamped that people’s examples are delayed for years even as judges grapple with burnout. There are currently 87 federal court vacancies. Twenty-eight are considered emergencies.

Sen. Chuck Grassley( R-Iowa ), who chairs the Judiciary Committee, said last week that he expects the Senate to stop any confirmation of magistrates by the time August hittings. That doesn’t bode well for the 7th Circuit, which is positioned to roll into year seven with this vacant seat.

This narrative has been updated with comment from Sen. Johnson’s office .

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