Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

15 More Judicial Confirmations, with More to Come

Yesterday Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and minority leader Chuck Schumer struck a deal in which Senate Democrats agreed to allow confirmation votes on 15 pending judicial nominees in exchange for an early recess in advance of November’s elections.

All 15 judicial nominees were confirmed yesterday. The group includes three federal appellate nominees—David Porter (CA3/PA), Ryan Nelson (CA9/ID), and Richard Sullivan (CA2/NY)—and twelve district-court nominees (William Ray, Liles Burke, Michael Juneau, Mark Norris, Eli Richardson, Thomas Kleeh, Peter Phipps, Susan Brnovich, Chad Kenney, Jeremy Kernodle, Lance Walker, and James Hanlon).

That takes President Trump’s total federal judicial appointments to 84—two Supreme Court justices, 29 federal appellate judges, and 53 federal district judges.

Even better: The Senate isn’t close to being done yet for the year. Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley stated yesterday that he expects the Senate to confirm all the judicial nominations that remain on the Senate floor, plus any other nominations that the committee processes before the end of the year.

There are 32 judicial nominations pending on the Senate floor (one appellate and 31 district), and there are seven judicial nominations (two appellate and five district) ready to be reported out of committee. In addition, there are 14 more judicial nominations (four appellate and ten district) on which a committee hearing has been expected to occur by mid-November.

If all of these nominations are confirmed by year-end, that would take President Trump’s total to 137—two Supreme Court justices, 36 federal appellate judges, and 99 federal district judges.

For sake of comparison: President Obama’s total during his first two years was 62—two Supreme Court justices, 16 federal appellate judges, and 44 federal district judges.

President Trump, Senator McConnell, and Senator Grassley deserve huge congratulations.

Whether this tremendous progress continues over the next two years or instead comes to a screeching halt depends on whether or not Republicans retain control of the Senate going into the next Congress.

Ed Whelan — Ed Whelan is a leading commentator on nominations to the Supreme Court and the lower courts and on issues of constitutional law.

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