Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

It’s Time to Get The Confirmations Rolling

Today the White House announced the re-nomination of 51 judicial nominees, including nine circuit court nominees:  Bridget Shelton Bade (Ninth); Joseph Bianco (Second); Paul Matey (Third); Eric Miller (Ninth); Eric Murphy (Sixth); Michael Park (Second); Neomi Rao (DC); Chad Readler (Sixth); and Allison Jones Rushing (Fourth).  Left unconfirmed at the end of the 115th Congress, these nominees were among the dozens of judicial nominations returned to the White House.

The president’s commitment to restoring the rule of law by confirming judges began nearly three years ago now with “The List”: the president’s wildly successful campaign pledge to choose future Supreme Court justices from his published list of prospects.  “The List” proved instrumental to the president’s eventual election in 2016, and now today two of those once-prospects are now sitting justices on the Supreme Court.

The confirmation of 85 new federal judges—including the two new justices and 30 circuit court judges—is perhaps the greatest joint achievement of the White House and the Republican Senate to date.  But despite this tremendous success, the number of vacancies today is even higher than it was on Inauguration Day.

At the beginning of the Trump administration, there were a total of 125 current and known vacancies—17 circuit court and 108 district/specialty court vacancies.  The total number of current and known future vacancies has since swelled to 164, with 15 circuit court vacancies and 149 district/specialty court vacancies today.

The number of vacancies continues to increase because normal judicial retirements are outpacing the number of judges that the Senate has been able to confirm.  This, of course, is the result of an egregious pattern of Democratic obstruction.  The Senate Democrats’ tools of Resistance the last two years have ranged from unnecessary and time-consuming cloture votes to personal smears and even to the egregious tactic of bullying President Trump’s nominees by subjecting them to inappropriate and unconstitutional religious tests.

Nonetheless, Leader McConnell and Chairman Graham have made it clear that they plan to make the confirmation of conservative judges their top priority.  To demonstrate our support for their efforts, and to shine a light on the Democrats’ pattern of bullying and obstruction, JCN last week launched a national ad campaign​.

We will continue to take whatever steps necessary to support the confirmation of extraordinarily qualified nominees, and we urge the White House to keep nominating them.

Carrie Severino is chief counsel and policy director to the Judicial Crisis Network.

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