Senate Democrats have used all sorts of parliamentary tactics to try to stop the confirmation train…
(Quin Hillyer, Liberty Headlines) With a huge assist from Senate Republicans who receive little credit for their work in this area, President Donald Trump – despite three recent stumbles – is setting records for securing confirmations of his judicial nominees.
As noted by USA Today, “The Senate has confirmed 20 judges starting with [Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch] including 12 to powerful appeals courts that are the last stop before the Supreme Court – more than any president has achieved in his first year in office.” (This breaks the record of 11 held by Presidents Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy.)
The next sentence in the newspaper’s story contained a crucial kicker: “[The new judges’] average age of 50 means they are likely to serve for decades in the lifetime posts.”
As almost every one of the nominees has rock-solid credentials as conservatives in the legal sense (hewing closely to the text of the law), this success rate at confirming appellate judges – and young ones at that – is leading conservative scholars (and activists) to rejoice.
Several of the new appeals-court judges already are on Trump’s official list of potential Supreme Court justices if any high-court nominations open up.
They include Amy Coney Barrett of the 7th Circuit, Kevin Newsom of the 11th Circuit, Don Willett of the 5th Circuit, Joan Larsen and Amul Thapar of the 6th Circuit, and Allison Eid of the 10th Circuit.
If any of them gets a Supreme Court nod, they are young enough to serve until the late 2040s or even early 2050s; The respective ages of those six judges are just 51, 49, 48, 45, 52, and 45.
Senate Democrats have used all sorts of parliamentary delaying tactics to try to stop this appellate confirmation train.
But Senate Republicans, with a bare 52-48 majority, have been resolute.
Because the Democrats changed the official rules for judicial confirmations when they held the majority, no such nomination can be killed via a “filibuster” by a minority of as few as 40 senators.
Under Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Republicans have made it a priority to secure the confirmations, using the new rules to their advantage.
A column at Axios called the judicial confirmations “the sleeper story that matters.”
Its key points:
“The federal courts affect almost every area of policy: gun rights, presidential executive orders like Trump’s travel ban, social policy issues like abortion and freedom of religion, and tensions between regulation, litigation and private enterprise.
“McConnell’s judges — who passed through a well-funded and organized conservative pipeline — will shape the U.S. over many decades in ways we can’t yet imagine.
“Smart Democrats are deeply concerned about this trend, and understand that these lifetime judicial appointments will have a much greater impact on the future direction of this country than any short-term spending deal or policy.”
Most of these new judges are not well known to the public, but one, Don Willett of Texas, is known as a prolific and humorous Tweeter with a large following.
Willett also was in the news just last month for using the Heimlich Maneuver at a Chick-fil-A restaurant to save a choking man’s life.
Trump and the Senate have not filled federal district court vacancies as rapidly, and the president’s record has suffered some hiccups on that front in the past two weeks.
For 677 district judgeships, a whopping 120 vacancies remain, and Trump has forwarded nominations only for 34 of those.
Just six district judges have been confirmed so far this year.
In the past two weeks, three of Trump’s district court nominees (or presumptive nominees) have withdrawn.
Matthew Peterson of Washington, D.C. was embarrassed by being unable to answer a series of basic legal questions proffered by Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana; Jeff Mateer of Texas was criticized for several controversial statements such as calling transgender children “part of Satan’s plan;” and Brett Talley of Alabama was attacked for lack of trial experience and for a blog post from 2011 in which he said, quite dubiously, that the “first” Ku Klux Klan was “entirely different” from the famous, later, violent one.
The liberal Washington Post editorial board wrote that the three failures are evidence that Republicans are rushing too fast to confirm nominees.
But with so many vacancies still existing, and with the distinguished records of most of the appellate nominees being obvious, conservatives disagree.
“[The newly confirmed judges] will uphold the Constitution and fairly apply the law,” said Carrie Severino, chief counsel of the Judicial Crisis Network. “As the president continues to nominate exceptional individuals to the federal bench, I look forward to the Senate quickly confirming them to fill the many remaining judicial vacancies so they can serve the public for years to come.”