“Each political party has found it easy to turn on a dime from decrying to defending the blocking of judicial nominations, depending on their changing political fortunes,” Roberts wrote in the report, released to the public at 6 p.m. Since Republicans are the ones doing the defending and the blocking in the current Senate, the comment puts the conservative Roberts in unusual alignment with Senate Democrats who have criticized Republicans for impeding confirmations.

Roberts said he was “heartened” by a flurry of confirmations in the final days of the Senate session last week, which we reported here. Overall, the Senate confirmed 60 appeals and district court judicial nominees in the 111th Congress, leaving 19 nominees without a yes-or-no vote. Roberts said the vacancies have created “acute difficulties” and “extraordinary caseloads” in some judicial districts. He singled out the Eastern District of California for mention as a court that has been hampered by vacancies.

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