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Grassley and McConnell need to get moving on judicial confirmations

Grassley and McConnell need to get moving on judicial confirmations

A once-in-a-generation opportunity to remake an institution.

The rot in many institutions cannot be undone in one presidential term or even two. In part that’s because of the entrenched permanent bureaucracy, in part because many (if not most) important institutions are not part of government.

Higher Ed is a prime example. Over two generations, faculty hiring and infighting has led to an environment at close to all top tier universities and colleges that is hostile to non-progressive ideas and people. Read about my alma mater, Hamilton College, for the script on how the takeover happened there, Western Civilization driven off campus at Hamilton College.

One institution that can be changed in a single presidential term (and definitely two) is the federal judiciary.

We have seen how lower trial and appellate court hostility to Trump has manifested itself in repeated injunctions against Trump’s executive orders on visas and refugees.

That those injunctions mostly were stayed by the Supreme Court in cases that now are now moot has not deterred the trial courts which have enjoined the third executive order. On a host of other issues courts, including the Supreme Court, have concocted constitutional arguments to dress up political arguments, rather than letting the political process work itself through.

While federal district court judges have lifetime tenure, there is a natural cycle of retirements that create vacancies. And those vacancies have piled up to the point that Trump has a generational opportunity to move the judiciary back to the center or even right of center in its approach to cases. We covered this in a post in late December 2016, Dems’ Nuclear Option will allow Trump to fill over 100 court vacancies quickly.

“Quickly,” however, is relative.

Nine months into the Trump first term, only 7 judges (including Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch) have made their way through the confirmation process and been confirmed. There is a pipeline of judges who have been nominated, but not yet confirmed. As of today, there are 51 pending nominees for 150 current vacancies. There are an additional 17 known future vacancies for which there are three nominees.

Democrats have done everything in their power to slow down the process, including refusing to return “blue slips” (approval from home state Senators) and insisting on 30 hours of floor debate even on nominees they don’t oppose. It’s all a big stall that started early. In June, when it was clear that slow walking the process was the Democrats tactic,  Chuck Grassley promised to speed things up, but it hasn’t happened.

While in raw numbers the confirmations are similar to prior administrations at this point in time (in addition to Gorsuch, 4 Circuit Court and 2 District Court confirmations), the broad-based stall is new particularly relative to the number of vacancies.

As of now, there are 9 Circuit Court and 16 District Court (including Court of Claims) nominees whose Judiciary Committee hearings have not yet been scheduled. There are 3 Circuit Court nominees and 9 District Court nominees awaiting Judiciary Committee vote, and another 2 Circuit Court and 12 District Court nominees who have been voted out of committee but not yet had a floor vote.

It’s time for Grassley and McConnell to get moving.

Grassley needs to overcome Democratic obstruction at the committee level, even if it means altering some non-rule traditions like the blue slip.

McConnell needs to free up as much Senate floor time as is needed for debate on nominees recommended out of committee so that the backlog is cleared this year. McConnell is feeling pressure, and has announced that the Senate will have to work more days and longer hours through year end.

And Trump needs to start feeding that pipeline of nominees so that by this time next year as many as possible of those remaining vacancies have been filled.

It’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity to turn around an institution. And it is at risk in the 2018 elections.

While it is unlikely, because of the math that Democrats have far more at risk seats than Republicans, that the Senate will switch hands, it’s not an impossibility. And we shouldn’t gamble with a once-in-a-generation opportunity.


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McConnell needs to pull his finger out of his arse and get in with the job of doing governy shit they were elected to do!

Otherwise get out of the way and let people who want to do the job get on with the job of being adults!

Maybe our congress critters need 24 hour shifts like a lot of emergency workers have. Even if they take weekends off, they will process 4 per week and still get their 30 hour debate. He just needs to make sure there is no time break in the hearings.

Prof., there was a report last week that McConnell had burned down the “blue slip” rule, and was all het up to get appointments through.

Subotai Bahadur | October 19, 2017 at 5:36 pm

Neither McConnell nor the GOPe want non-Leftist judges, because court orders are their way of getting out of having to stand for anything.

    Ragspierre in reply to Subotai Bahadur. | October 19, 2017 at 6:31 pm

    Yeah, boy. Because the really, really WANT your civil war, right…???

    Another case of bad wiring…

      4th armored div in reply to Ragspierre. | October 19, 2017 at 6:55 pm

      SB is one of the best posters internet wide – do not dismiss his commentary.

        Ragspierre in reply to 4th armored div. | October 19, 2017 at 7:13 pm

        I don’t dismiss it. I mock it. He’s nuts. It’s sad in a sort of hilarious way. Like you.

          Anonamom in reply to Ragspierre. | October 20, 2017 at 11:58 am

          Oh, the irony.

          Ragspierre in reply to Ragspierre. | October 20, 2017 at 10:54 pm

          Yeah, the irony of a guy posting on a legal conservative blog just lusting for a civil war IS pretty thick.

          Don’t you “think”…???

          Rags, here’s a hint: when you want to accuse someone of “lusting for a civil war,” it’s probably a good idea to do so in response to a comment in which said person actually says or even implies this.

          Here’s what SB wrote:

          Neither McConnell nor the GOPe want non-Leftist judges, because court orders are their way of getting out of having to stand for anything.

          This has what to do with civil war (let alone a “lust” for it)?

          Sure, commenters at LI do advocate some sort of civil war in our near future, but you aren’t effectively rebutting their stance by wildly attacking commenters out of context.

          Here’s how it looks to sane people:

          “Hey, I love ice cream, rum raisin is my fave.” “Sure, you great big ice cream-eating proponent of civil war.”

          See how that just doesn’t work?

          Ragspierre in reply to Ragspierre. | October 21, 2017 at 8:23 am

          Well, hell, Fussy Sloppers, I figure people here have memories longer than a goose, and have read the insane slop SB publishes, so THIS particular line of insane slop is part of a continuum.

          See now…???

These GOPe rats need to just get going.

Never trust McConnell on anything. It’s only a matter of time till he once again stabs us in the back.