The Corner

Law & the Courts

Conservative Groups Showcase Ads Demanding Judicial Confirmations

Last month, the Washington Post wrote that “naming youthful conservative nominees to the federal bench in record-setting numbers” is one area where President Trump is “wildly successful.” Of course, naming those judges and confirming them are two separate actions.

The Senate has confirmed three Trump picks for the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, one district judge and the Supreme Court appointment of Neil Gorsuch, which is ahead of the normal pace for judicial approvals. (Of course, few presidents take office with a Supreme Court vacancy.) But another thirty Trump judicial nominations await confirmation by the Senate. (Three judges have been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, but not yet confirmed by the full Senate.)

The conservative legal organization Judicial Crisis Network is launching a $500,000 digital ad campaign, featuring ads like this one:

Other conservative grassroots groups including Tea Party Patriots, Concerned Veterans for America, Susan B. Anthony List, and Concerned Women for America are launching email campaigns, phone banks, email alerts to fellow activists, and drive attendance at town halls hosted by Democratic Members of Congress.

When Trump took office in January, there were 105 judicial vacancies; now there are nearly 140.

“There are almost 140 open seats on the federal bench waiting to be filled, with many more piling up,” declared Judicial Crisis Network’s Chief Counsel Carrie Severino in a statement. “This Democratic obstruction can end by reforming the so-called ‘blue slip’ process and adopting Senator Lankford’s gridlock reform proposal to debate each nominee for eight hours or less and give them a prompt up or down vote.”

Lankford wrote earlier this month:

Since presidential nominations now require only a simple majority to pass, the majority party can confirm nominees without any minority party support. But the minority can force the full 30 hours of debate time provided within the rules, which they have repeatedly demanded. At the current rate, it will take 11 years to fill the executive branch.

How do we get the Senate working again? First, we should reduce floor debate time for executive nominees from 30 hours to eight or less. The Senate could debate and vote on five or more nominees a week, instead of just one or two. Interestingly, this rule change was adopted for a short time by the Senate in 2013, under Harry Reid, as part of a temporary agreement to fill nominations. It worked then, and it would work now.

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