There has been a fair amount of conservative frustration that the Trump administration was slow to get off the mark to renominate and start the confirmation process for judicial nominees held over from the last Congress.

Particularly as to vacancies on the 9th Circuit, there were fears that the administration was cutting a bad deal with Democrats.

Those concerns were mostly assuaged when the Trump administration renominated over 50 judicial nominees, and nominated solid candidates for three vacancies on the 9th Circuit. The burden then fell to Lindsey Graham and the Judiciary Committee to vote the nominees out of committee, and then on Mitch McConnell to get floor votes even if if meant changing Senate rules to shorten floor debate to minimize Democrat obstruction.

For whatever the reason, I seem to be on the email lists of many left-wing groups. I guess they figure that a website with the word “insurrection” in it must be one of them. I don’t mind, I find their whiny, panicked emails quite entertaining.

So when I saw in my inbox today an email from People for the American Way with this subject line, I was pretty sure I’d have material for a post:

PFAW: Senate Republicans Advance Barr for Attorney General and Push Narrow-Minded Elitists for Federal Bench in “Monster Markup”

Federal Bench “Monster Markup” — definitely worth a read:

People For the American Way today released the following statement from PFAW Executive Vice President Marge Baker in response to the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee’s rubber-stamping of dozens of narrow-minded elitist judicial nominees in the so-called “Monster Markup,” while also voting to advance the nomination of William Barr for attorney general:

* * *

“It’s critical that we staff the federal courts with fair-minded constitutionalists—and it’s the Senate’s responsibility under the Constitution to make sure the president’s nominees are fit for that role. Judging from today’s efforts to ram a group of narrow-minded elitists through the Senate confirmation process, Republicans disagree. Today’s ‘Monster Markup’ was an outrageous attempt to stack the federal judiciary with right-wing reactionaries. The deeply troubling records of these nominees include attacks on LGBTQ rights, reproductive rights, voting rights, workers’ rights, and our health care system. These are issues of deep concern to the American people, and voters deserve to know their senators take them seriously.

So what was all this “Monster Markup” talk all about? It seems to be the phrase used by many left-wing activist groups. The American Constitutional Society complains about Another Monster Markup as the Senate Advances Trump’s Judicial Nominees:

The Senate moves closer this week to confirming dozens of President Trump’s picks for lifetime judicial appointments. In what’s known as a “Monster Markup” (because of the large number of nominees on the agenda) the Senate Judiciary Committee will be voting on Thursday to recommend judicial nominees for a confirmation vote by the full Senate later in the year.

With these confirmations, Senate Republicans are continuing their quest to put President Trump’s extremely conservative judges on the federal bench….

In its Monster Markup on Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will decide whether to recommend for confirmation Trump’s attorney general-nominee William Barr and 42 of his nominees for the federal courts. Stacking hearings and meetings with multiple nominees is one of the procedural tools the Republican leadership is using to break long-standing Senate norms and fast-track the president’s nominees.

Alliance for Justice screamed, Monster Markup Puts Trump Damage to Courts on “Full Display”, while the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights claimed:

Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted William Barr, President Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, out of committee and 44 candidates to serve lifetime appointments on the federal bench. Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, issued the following statement:

“Once again, the Senate Judiciary Committee has failed to carry out its constitutional obligation to provide advice and consent on the President’s judicial nominees by short-circuiting the review process and rubber-stamping dozens of nominees, many of whom harbor bias and lack the ability to carry out the job with independence and integrity. Moreover, every slate of this President’s nominees has turned the clock back on judicial diversity in ways that are undermining the public’s confidence in the work of the courts. From day 1, this Administration has used the nomination process as another vehicle to promote its political agenda, one that has been about harming the interests of communities of color and obstructing application of our civil rights laws. In no uncertain terms, we condemn the Senate Judiciary Committee’s decision to blindly advance nominees, many of whom are radical and outside the legal mainstream.” …

Courthouse News has a more neutral description of what took place:

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday advanced the nominations of 44 of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees, resuming the efforts of the Republican-controlled Senate to stock the federal judiciary with Trump selections.

Of the 44 judges the committee approved on Wednesday, 19 received approval in the last Congress, but were not confirmed before the end of the year. As is Senate practice, all nominees who were not approved were sent back to the White House and Trump eventually chose to renominate many of them last month.

Among the 25 who received approval for the first time, six are up for seats on federal appeals courts, including two nominees each to the Sixth and Ninth Circuits, as well as one to the Third Circuit and one to the Fourth Circuit.

This all sounds good, doesn’t it?

The newly energized Lindsey Graham, who had Republicans and conservatives cheering during the Kavanaugh hearings, seems to understand the importance of filling judicial vacancies despite bad faith Democrat tactics.

According to Courthouse News:

Senator Lindsey Graham, the North Carolina Republican who now chairs the committee, has said he will continue the policy of his predecessor, Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and require the blue slip for federal district court nominees, but not for circuit court nominees so long as the White House at least consulted with the senators.

Graham said Thursday the blue slip was not meant to allow a single senator to effectively veto a nominee. He also said he would work with the White House to ensure home-state senators at least can give their opinions on the nominees.

There is a lot more work to be done. The Heritage Foundation points out that by historical standards, the current level of vacancies constitutes a crisis:

Judicial vacancies today are 52% higher than when @CoryBooker declared a “vacancy crisis” in July 2016.

They are 88% higher than in September 2015, when @SenatorLeahy warned that “we are heading into a judicial vacancy crisis.” #SOTU

https://twitter.com/Heritage/status/1092973398442033152

Now it’s up to Mitch McConnell to do what it takes to get floor votes, including reducing the rule allowing 30 hours of debate on each nominee. At that rate, it would take several months to work through the current re-nominees plus additional months for new nominees.