Senate Republicans are still mad about the way Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was treated by Democrats. Since then they have been confirming President Trump’s judicial nominees at a historically fast pace.
And Democrats are not happy about it. As a result the Senate may be facing a bitter fight over the next few weeks over President Trump’s latest judicial nominations.
Trump has already had 84 of his judges confirmed, including 29 at the appellate level. This is a record number of judicial confirmations for the first two years of a presidential administration. And now Trump appointees make up one-sixth of the active judges on the federal bench.
Conservatives, of course, are delighted.
“This White House has made the judiciary a priority,” crowed Carrie Severino of Judicial Crisis Network, a right-wing advocacy group.
But new judges must appear for a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee before they can be confirmed by the Senate. So Iowa GOP Senator Chuck Grassley, the Judiciary Committee chair, allowed hearings for new judges to take place in October while the Senate was on recess. This provoked an outcry from Democrats who noted that in the history of the Senate, this had never been done before. Grassley allowed ten judicial nominees to go through the hearing process at that time.
And now GOP members of the Senate will try to confirm as many nominees as possible before they adjourn for the year. This has infuriated Democrats who remain powerless to stop Trump’s picks from being confirmed.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will try to force through as many nominations as he can before the December 14 deadline.
“That’s Sen. McConnell’s No. 1 priority is to continue to move judges,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the second-ranking Republican.
McConnell has said he wants to take action on 35 judicial nominees before the end of the year, which is probably not feasible unless the deadline is extended. Democrats, of course, are not in favor of doing this.
And McConnell has been bragging about the record number of judicial confirmations to right-wing groups such as the Federalist Society.
McConnell has often said that he views judicial nominations as the way for the Republican Party to have a long-term impact on the direction of the country.
Republican tactics have angered Democrats and their allies, who cannot stop Trump’s picks without help from Republicans.
People for the American Way Executive Vice President Marge Baker said Grassley’s and McConnell’s actions show a “reckless and irresponsible approach to rubber stamping Trump’s dangerous judicial nominations.”
She also said that the two senators “have debased the Senate in pursuit of their ultra-partisan agenda.”
Tensions in the Senate have been running high for months over judicial nominations. Republicans accuse Democrats of “obstruction” and Democrats claim that McConnell and Grassley are “destroying Senate norms” in order to pack the courts with conservative judges.
To his credit, GOP Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona announced last week on the Senate floor that he would not vote for any Trump judicial nominees until Special Counsel Robert Mueller is protected, but that is not expected to have a real impact.
Unfortunately for the American people the U.S. Senate will remain in the hands of Republicans after the midterm elections. They have shown that when they are in power they will throw established traditions out the window in order to further their right-wing agenda.
The good news of course is that the House is in the hands of Democrats who now must pass legislation to overcome the anti-democratic actions of the upper chamber which are focused on taking away rights of Americans.