Senator Jim DeMint is leaving the Senate to head the Heritage Foundation, with the idea of pushing the conservative agenda. DeMint had been blocking action by the Senate on judicial nominations offered up by President Obama.
His departure paves the way for action on judicial vacancies. While it does not seem likely that he could have prevented new judges for the entirety of President Obama’s second term, some long-standing vacancies have persisted for months or even years on federal courts. While the Senator’s objection is largely ideological and a protest against winter recess appointments, the practical implications of court vacancies loom larger than ideology. Many cases just need to be decided. In the employment context, ideology sometimes seems to drive what looks like an extreme decision, but most judges try to follow the law and deliver justice to the parties before them. That can’t be done if there are not enough members on the bench.