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Fla. Groups Protest Lack of Progress on Judicial Nominations

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A coalition is protesting at Sen. Marco Rubio's office to draw attention to vacancies on the federal district courts in Florida, and the caseload backup it says is a result. Credit: Serggn/iStockphoto.
A coalition is protesting at Sen. Marco Rubio's office to draw attention to vacancies on the federal district courts in Florida, and the caseload backup it says is a result. Credit: Serggn/iStockphoto.
August 25, 2015

ORLANDO, Fla. – Dozens of members of the Florida Why Courts Matter coalition are protesting in front of Senator Marco Rubio's Orlando office today to draw attention to three vacancies in the federal district courts.

Two of the judicial positions were vacated recently, but a third has been open for more than a year, and there's a significant backlog in all three courts – prompting the federal government to declare filling each of them a "judicial emergency."

Mark Ferrulo, executive director of Progress Florida, says justice delayed is justice denied.

"The federal bench has been where a lot of major decisions have been made," he says. "Whether it's been protecting voters from efforts to make voting harder in Florida, and it was the federal courts that really opened the path toward gay marriage."

The nominee for the Southern District of Florida, Mary Barzee Flores, was originally suggested by Senators Rubio and Nelson six months ago, but so far, Rubio hasn't signed the papers that would give the nominee a hearing. Senator Rubio's office has said they are still working on background checks.

Ferullo says the delay is a campaign strategy.

"You know, it might make a good stump speech for him to say he's 'taking on the president,' but that is not helping everyday Floridians who want their day in court and deserve it," he says.

Florida isn't the only state under a judicial emergency. Currently, that term applies to 31 positions for federal judges that have either been open too long or have a large backlog of cases.

Ferullo says the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is on pace to confirm the fewest number of judges since 1953.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - FL