Coats Wants Bipartisan Nominating Commission

May 13, 2015

U.S. Sen. Dan Coats proposed a new commission for filling judicial vacancies Wednesday.
Credit Courtesy/U.S. Sen. Dan Coats

U.S. Senator Dan Coats says he wants to take the politics out of appointing federal judges, proposing a bipartisan commission to fill vacancies. Indiana’s federal system has three vacancies, with another on the way.

To fill judicial vacancies at the federal level, U.S. Senators submit recommendations to the president, who then submits a candidate for nomination to the Senate. 

Senator Coats says the system is fraught with politics, particularly when, as in Indiana, the two senators are from different parties. 

The Hoosier Republican says he wants to create a bipartisan judicial nominating commission.

“In this case, we’ve got a vetting process and hopefully they will provide with the names of qualified individuals that we can both agree on,” Coats said.

Indiana has had a vacancy in its Southern District Court since June, in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals since February, and has needed a new U.S. Attorney in the Southern District since July.  Coats says he wants to move quickly to create the commission before he leaves office after 2016, and wants to do so with bipartisan agreement. 

He says he’s spoken with Senator Joe Donnelly about the issue, but Donnelly says different. 

In a statement, the Democrat says he only heard about it from Coats’ press release and is trying to figure out why Coats is proposing the idea now.