The repercussions transcend politics. If not for judicial ethics, working district judges, waving their gavels, would have come storming out of the federal courthouse with their own protest of Rubio’s political meddling. The Southern District already has three vacancies. Two more district judges plan to move into senior, part-time status next year.
Cases and the workload have been piling up, until the Administrative Office of the federal courts declared a “judicial emergency” in both the southern and middle districts of Florida. “Florida’s federal trial courts are in a state of crisis because of the overwhelming number of vacancies,” Annika Ashton, vice president of the Caribbean Bar Association, said Wednesday. “Our community cannot afford continued unexplained delays in the confirmation of judicial nominees.”
Even if all the federal district court vacancies were filled, the courts would still be in perpetual crisis. Congress hasn’t dealt with judicial staffing since 1990. Meanwhile, caseloads of individual judges have risen 40 percent. We need more judges. Instead, we’ve got 43 nominees left in political limbo.
The folks gathered at the courthouse Wednesday were particularly upset at the racial aspect of the Rubio holds, that the senator has sabotaged the confirmation of two black candidates in a federal judiciary woefully bereft of black judges.
But like so much else that comes with the politics-as-total-war madness, like the sequester or the looming government shut-down, political gamesmanship in Washington has real consequences back home. In Miami, Rubio is not just fomenting political and racial divisiveness, he’s clogging the courts. He’s impeding justice.