Bench Memos

NRO’s home for judicial news and analysis.

Republican Senators and Judicial Confirmation Fights


Here’s an interesting piece by Quin Hillyer, now executive editor of the American Spectator, complaining about the “utter cluelessness of the Republican majority in the U.S. Senate” in failing to press hard for the confirmation of federal judges. Among other things, Hillyer explains why confirmation fights on behalf of conservative judges ought to be a political winner and why a fight over the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the D.C. Circuit ought to be especially appealing.

Just one quick comment: I fear that risk-averseness explains why many Republican senators seem unwilling to fight the good fight. Most Republican senators, as incumbents, figure that the easiest path to re-election lies in an issueless race. Even if Hillyer is right (as I certainly think he is) that confirmation fights over conservative judges are very likely to help Republicans, such fights create an issue that has at least some possibility of a downside. If you expect to get re-elected in an issueless race, why take the chance? (Alas, doing the right thing because it’s the right thing is not, for too many senators, an appealing answer to this question.)


Subscribe to National Review