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White House Counsel Wants Faster Confirmation of Judges

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Calling the current high number of judicial vacancies nationwide "a matter of urgency," White House Counsel Bob Bauer Tuesday pledged to work with the new Congress to reverse the "slow crawl" of confirmations.

"We will do what it takes to break the gridlock," Bauer said.

Currently 101 of the 875 judgeships are vacant, and 48 of those are considered “judicial emergencies” because the cases filed have exceeded the capacity of judges to hear them.

In a speech at the National Press Club, Bauer said he would decline to assign blame for the climate enveloping the confirmation process on the Hill. Republicans contend that the administration has been slow to nominate judges and Democrats say that Republicans are delaying votes unfairly. Bauer said that over the years both parties have been to blame for the gridlock. He said that the administration has talked to Republican and Democrat senators behind the scenes and that both have privately admitted that the system is broken down.

Before his murder in Arizona, Judge John Roll also made the issue a priority. He asked the chief judge of the 9th Circuit to declare a state of judicial crisis in his district because the judges were overwhelmed. On the day of his death, Roll was hoping to thank Rep. Gabrielle Giffords for her support on the issue.

After Roll’s death, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the 9th Circuit told the Los Angeles Times that he hoped the White House and the Senate would move quickly to ease the judicial emergency.

"I hate to take advantage of such a tragedy but if this brings public attention to the pressing need of filling vacancies then that would be a welcome result," Kozinski said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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