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Trump judicial confirmations moving along, but not fast enough

Trump judicial confirmations moving along, but not fast enough

Grassley and McConnell need to clear all roadblocks, and Trump needs to fill the pipeline, so there isn’t a single vacant seat heading into 2018 elections.

In numerous prior posts we have followed the tortuous process of getting Trump federal judicial nominees confirmed. Democrats have thrown down every procedural delay possible, even for nominees they didn’t oppose.

What Democrats fear is that Trump will take advantage of the historic opportunity handed him to reshape the federal judiciary for a generation to come. We first covered this Democrat fear in December 2016, and how the Democrats’ 2013 decision to remove the filibuster for judicial nominees below the Supreme Court level cleared the way, Dems’ Nuclear Option will allow Trump to fill over 100 court vacancies quickly.

We expanded on the math just prior to the Inauguration, quoting a study released by Ballotpedia, Liberal nightmare: Trump could appoint half federal judiciary:

“When Trump takes office, 12.41 percent of all life-term judicial positions will be vacant, and by the end of his first term, Trump could see vacancies in up to 50.3 percent of these positions.”

Trump has moved relatively quickly in nominating judges, and of course filled the Scalia seat with Neil Gorsuch, but the pace of confirmations has been maddening because of Democrat stall tactics. In mid-October 2017 we noted Grassley and McConnell need to get moving on judicial confirmations:

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….

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.

Have things improved? Depends who you ask.

The NY Times, which of course wants Trump not to reshape the judiciary, is aghast at the progress that has been achieved, Trump Is Rapidly Reshaping the Judiciary. Here’s How.:

Mr. Trump has already appointed eight appellate judges, the most this early in a presidency since Richard M. Nixon, and on Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to send a ninth appellate nominee — Mr. Trump’s deputy White House counsel, Gregory Katsas — to the floor.

Republicans are systematically filling appellate seats they held open during President Barack Obama’s final two years in office with a particularly conservative group of judges with life tenure. Democrats — who in late 2013 abolished the ability of 41 lawmakers to block such nominees with a filibuster, then quickly lost control of the Senate — have scant power to stop them….

While the two parties have been engaged in a tit-for-tat escalation of hardball politics over judicial nominations since the Reagan years, the Trump administration is completing a fundamental transformation of the enterprise. And the consequences may go beyond his chance to leave an outsize stamp on the judiciary….

As a result, Mr. Trump is poised to bring the conservative legal movement, which took shape in the 1980s in reaction to decades of liberal rulings on issues like the rights of criminal suspects and of women who want abortions, to a new peak of influence over American law and society.

“What makes this a unique opportunity in modern history is the sheer number of vacancies, the number of potential vacancies because of the aging bench, and the existence of a president who really cares about this issue in his gut,” said Leonard A. Leo, an informal adviser to Mr. Trump on courts who is the executive vice president of the Federalist Society.

If you ask me, not enough has been done.

While it’s unlikely, given the seats up for election, that Republicans will lose the Senate, it’s not impossible. If the Senate is lost in 2018, then so is the opportunity handed Trump to reshape the judiciary. So time is of the essence.

Every single vacant seat should be filled as quickly as possible. Some progress is not good enough. Grassley and McConnell need to clear all roadblocks, and Trump needs to fill the pipeline.


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Why would mcyertle and co get a move on? Its not in their best interests to get as many judges in place by the time the 2018 elections roll around because they have nothing to lose if they lose the Senate.

Conservatives HAVE to get their applies lined up next year to ensure as many proper conservatives are voted in to the Senate to minimise the damage these RINO’s continue to visit on America!

I have a feeling the judgeships are just another piece of the ” Long Game ” … a chit. McConnell will just rack up not getting things done to Trump and he simply can’t herd cats. The GOPe would be just fine with status quo… you know… where the Dem minority runs the show. The RINO’s keep their chairmanships and committee assignments… and the game keeps on.

I think the ” spanner in the spoke ” is coming soon, with a failure to pass tax reform ( they will attempt to force something in there that Trump will have to VETO or he looks like he was played, like they played Reagan ). Just watch. The test will be, can or will Trump and his folks be prepared? Do they have a ” Long Game”? I’d like to think they do, but there is going to be a shutdown threat again in December and all sorts of crap flying.

Correct me (nicely) if I’m mistaken, but didn’t McConnell clear the way for fast approval in the Senate, and isn’t it Grassley who’s the impediment?


“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.”

THAT sounds like T-rump needs to get in gear (perhaps foregoing a tweet or several?).

    4th armored div in reply to Ragspierre. | November 12, 2017 at 11:55 am

    you may be right that not enough proposed judges are in the pipeline – BUT isn’t it the job of the congress critters to help propose appropriate people.
    POTUS has not been in that busies prior to a year ago, while the rats in the swamp have been.

      4th armored div in reply to 4th armored div. | November 12, 2017 at 11:56 am

      /busies /business/

      I guess anybody can propose a good candidate. It doesn’t fall on anybody in congress to do it, and they really can’t. It has to come from POTUS, even though the original proposal can come from elsewhere.

      And it really isn’t on T-rump personally. He has “people”.

      isn’t it the job of the congress critters to help propose appropriate people

      No, it isn’t. It’s the president’s job. Congresspeople, like anyone else, may know someone in their district or state whom they think suitable, and suggest them to the president, but that’s never been part of their job, which starts only after the president has nominated someone and asked for the senate’s consent.

    So how many potential nominees want to disrupt their lives to wait in limbo? I wouldn’t be surprised if they haven’t asked to delay the announcement until there’s a more definite time for action.

      Ragspierre in reply to SDN. | November 12, 2017 at 1:31 pm

      That’s actually a fair point, and one that could be clarified by the administration. No need to name names, just “is that a factor”.

      OTOH, when is there a “definite time for action”? Any nominee can come up, regardless of when they were named. There is no actual queue. Seems to me…

      I could be mistaken.

Imagine that, putting people in place who will carry out the law as written! Absolutely scandalous I tell you! Mark my words, it will never catch on!!

McConnell needs to do a bulk approval.

30 hours of debate? No problem. Block off from Noon Saturday to 6PM Sunday for any speeches any Senator wants to make in favor or against any judicial confirmation. Vote them out of committee all week long, have the 30 hours of debate “Hear ye, hear ye, the period of debate over the following judicial nominees is now in session. Debated today will be the suitability of nominees Adams, Burker, Carheart, Dean, Epplestein, Franklin…”

Then Monday morning bright and early… Oh, wait. It’s the Senate. Ahem. Tuesday around noon when the Senators emerge from hibernation, have the vote in order of the nominees that were debated over the weekend. Should take about 20 minutes a week.

    Milhouse in reply to georgfelis. | November 13, 2017 at 12:17 pm

    I believe the senate rules require 30 hours of debate for each nomination. What you have to understand is that the senate’s rules are deliberately written so as to make doing anything very difficult. Therefore the only practical way to get things done is to get unanimous consent to waive the rules. Almost everything the senate ever does is by unanimous consent. But at any time, any senator can insist on following the rules, and thus kill whatever it is he objects to, because passing it the official way is too much trouble.

Sure sounds simple. Line up suitable bodies, then round up some votes. The bottleneck must be the votes, right? So blame it on McConnell. Easy-peasy.

But the first hurdle in beating back the Progressive assault on Constitutional government is finding suitable candidates. Nomination by a Republican president doesn’t turn dross into gold. That process is how we ended up stuck with … well, let’s just say disappointing Justices like Souter, Stevens, and Roberts—Republican nominees all.

The other obvious pitfall is that in the rush to propose nominees, general Conservative respect for old dead white-guy stuff like the Constitution can be confused with mere anti-abortion sympathies. Abortion policy is only a tiny piece of the Conservative intellectual spectrum, and not even the most important part. Fortunately, this doesn’t seem to be a problem … at least not right now. But it’s always lurking.

He is bought and paid for by people who have no interest in the survival of this nation as it was founded.

McConnell is a disgusting, transparent rat. He is a bigger traitor to the nation than the democrat loons who wear their hatred for our nation on their sleeve. McConnell wears his on his underwear – next to where he hides his graft money.

We have to destroy the rat’s position in Congress.