This article from the Daily Beast, and a similar one that recently ran in the Wall Street Journal, underscores the conservative strategy of stacking the country’s federal judiciary in a way that could have profound consequences for decades and highlights the importance of the 2018 U.S. Senate races for our brotherhood.
President Donald Trump has little patience for the workings of democracy.
He cries that Democrats are obstructing his judicial nominations—“the Democrats are holding them up beyond anything. Beyond comprehension, they’re holding them up,” he said of “some of the most qualified people ever, and they’re waiting forever on line—and that Senate Republicans should thus use their slim majority to scrap blue slips, the longstanding bipartisan tradition in which home state senators sign off on nominees, to speed his nominees through.
But in fact Trump has been nominating judges at a fast clip, and so far he’s gotten seven judicial nominees confirmed out of the 57 whose names he’s put forward. President Obama’s had just three judges confirmed by this point in 2009, and his party, too, controlled the senate.
Trump has about 150 judicial vacancies to fill, many more than previous presidents, in part because the last senate, led by Republican Mitch McConnell, deliberately holding open vacancies while Obama was in office—including the Supreme Court seat now held by Neil Gorsuch after Republicans refused to even hold a hearing for Obama’s highly regarded nominee, Merrick Garland.
Those 150 vacancies including 21 on the next highest court, the Court of Appeals, enough to shift power to the right, particularly on cultural issues.
With Republicans needing just 51 votes to win confirmation, Democrats have been unnerved and so far powerless to stop a steady stream of judicial nominees—many with glaring deficiencies—sanctioned by the conservative Federalist Society and promoted by the right-wing activist group, the Judicial Crisis Network win lifetime appointments.
When Democrats controlled the Senate, blue slips were considered so sacred then even Democratic leader Harry Reid couldn’t get a judge confirmed from his home state of Nevada when Nevada’s Republican Senator Dean Heller wouldn’t return his blue slip. Now, McConnell says that the blue slip will be treated as “notification” of how a senator will vote, “and not an opportunity to blackball.”