Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

“We Will Confirm These Nominees. You Can Count on It”

While giving remarks this morning, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had strong words for the Democratic minority, which persists in its unprecedented obstruction of President Trump’s outstanding judicial nominees. Noting that even though “the well-qualified men and women the president has nominated enjoy substantial bipartisan support,” the Democratic minority continues to “erect[] partisan procedural hurdles designed not to change [the] outcome but simply to waste the Senate’s time.”

Senator McConnell pointed out that, during the first year of President Obama’s presidency, only once did Senate Republicans require a cloture vote on one of President Obama’s nominees. In contrast, Senate Democrats have invoked cloture for all of President Trump’s nominees except one. As Senator McConnell explained, these cloture votes “are not designed to change [the] outcome but only to waste Senate floor time. For example, this week the Senate has spent several days considering the nomination of Scott Palk, nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, despite the fact that Mr. Palk was originally nominated to the same seat by President Obama in 2015. He was confirmed today by a substantial margin of 79-16, notwithstanding the multiple days of debate over his nomination required by cloture. Likewise, Senate Democrats required cloture for Trevor McFadden this past week, nominee to U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, despite the fact that Mr. McFadden was voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously in July. In the past, it has not been unusual for district court nominees—and even occasionally circuit court nominees—to be confirmed by voice votes.

Senator McConnell promised today that the Senate Minority’s pointless attempts at obstruction will not succeed, vowing that, “We will confirm these nominees. You can count on it.” He said that he will do what is necessary to see them confirmed, even if it means “more cloture votes and more time focused on this task [of confirming nominees].” And Senator McConnell demonstrated this afternoon he is quite serious about his promise, filing cloture motions for all four of the pending circuit court nominees: Amy Coney Barrett, Joan Larsen, Allison Eid, and Stephanos Bibas. This sets up confirmation votes for all four of these nominees next week.  With Mr. Palk being confirmed today, and Mr. McFadden’s confirmation vote now slated for Monday afternoon, this means that six of President Trump’s judicial nominees could be confirmed within the span of one week. 

This morning eight additional judicial nominees were reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, bringing the number of nominees currently awaiting a confirmation vote to 21.  I applaud Senator McConnell’s commitment to ensuring the confirmation of all of President Trump’s outstanding nominees and look forward to seeing them serve in our federal courts across the country.

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

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