As the U.S. Senate gets ready to go on its August recess, we must highlight once again one of its most successful efforts: the confirmation of judges. Just this week, the Senate confirmed more than double (15) the nominees it did last summer (7). This year the Senate has confirmed 61 judges: 13 judges to the circuit court, 46 district court judges and two to the Court of International Trade (CIT).
Great credit goes to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) whose focus on judicial nominations has remained consistent throughout President Donald Trump’s time in office. Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) has also shined, even after following one of the most successful Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). The Judiciary Committee has reported 88 judges to the floor in his short time as chairman.
Here are the overall numbers which are most impressive of all. Since President Trump took office, the Senate has confirmed a total of 146 judges. They break down as follows: two Supreme Court justices, 43 circuit court judges, 99 to the district court and two CIT.
The quality of nominees has been very high, as most readers will know. President Trump has committed himself to the nomination of judges who are in the mold of Justice Clarence Thomas and the late, great Antonin Scalia. Judges who will follow the Constitution and laws as written, instead of re-defining terms to reach the conclusions they personally prefer. This approach is essential to the preservation of liberty, and we are grateful to the president for this commitment.
This success has been possible because of several reforms in the judicial confirmation process. There is no more filibustering of judicial nominees, the blue slip process (which required home state senators to return a blue slip before the nomination can move forward) has been greatly adjusted also for circuit court nominees, and the amount of time that can be consumed on each nominees has been tampered, too.
But it is worth noting that things will get tougher going forward because the blue slip process for district court nominees is in full force still. This means that both senators from a state must after the president nominates someone to the district court must “return the blue slip” before the nomination can move forward. This is meant to encourage compromise between the White House and the state where the nomination is being made.
Practically, this means that where there are two liberal senators, the President will have to be more strategic in order to get the vacancy filled with a constitutionalist. Traditionally, some bargaining will be required here where, for example, if there are four vacancies, the president will name three nominees and the home state senators will get to name the other. This has the potential of allowing some less than desirable nominees getting through.
We must, therefore, remain diligent in our monitoring of nominees. We have already identified some troubling ones that we have been able to stop, but much discernment will be required going forward.
Let us continue to pray for the President, the Senate and the CWA legal team as we continue to engage in this important area.