Long ago Mitch McConnell vowed to leave no federal judicial vacancy unfilled by the end of Trump’s first term. That promise is close to being kept despite Democrat and media outcry.
Mitch McConnell long ago promised to leave no federal court vacancy unfilled by the end of Trump’s first term. Depending on what happens in the next three weeks, this may be Trump’s only term and McConnell has continued moving judicial nominations through to confirmation.
Needless to say, Democrats and the media (but I repeat myself) are not happy, particularly as Republican’s move to fill a vacancy on the First Circuit caused by the death of a judge, and the vacancy on the 7th Circuit caused by Amy Coney Barrett joining the Supreme Court.
Bloomberg News cries:
Senate Republicans are racing ahead with post-election judicial confirmations, breaking a 123-year tradition against voting on judicial nominees of an outgoing president of the defeated party during a lame duck session.
The Senate has confirmed six district court nominees since reconvening after the Nov. 3 election that saw Democrat Joe Biden defeat President Donald Trump. Trial court nominees confirmed this week included another Trump nominee rated unqualified by the American Bar Association.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also wants to confirm Trump’s two remaining circuit picks whose nominations arose after Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s elevation to the Supreme Court from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and the death of a First Circuit judge….
We’re going to run through the tape,” McConnell said to conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt after Barrett’s confirmation on Oct. 30. “We go through the end of the year, and so does the president.”
The next roll call votes are scheduled for Nov. 30.
Axios notes that the senate just confirmed the youngest District Court judge:
The Senate on Wednesday confirmed lawyer Kathryn Kimball Mizelle to a lifetime judgeship on U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida in a 49-41 vote.
Why it matters: It’s the sixth Trump-appointed district judge the Senate has confirmed since Election Day, breaking with the body’s tradition against approving nominees of a lame-duck president.
- Even after losing the presidential election, Trump and Republicans have continued to reshape the judiciary at a blistering pace with a slew of young, conservative judges.
- The Senate had only once approved the nominee of a president who lost re-election since 1987, Brookings Institution fellow Russell Wheeler told Bloomberg Law.
The big picture: Democrats have criticized the Washington, D.C.-based lawyer’s record, arguing she has never tried a criminal or civil case as lead or co-counsel.
- The 33-year-old, who has eight years of legal experience, is President Trump’s youngest judicial appointment. She would be among the youngest federal judges in the U.S.
- A substantial majority of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee gave Mizelle a “Not Qualified” rating for the position, citing the “short time she has actually practiced law and her lack of meaningful trial experience.”
- The other side: Republicans have touted Mizelle’s resume, which includes a clerkship with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
The leftist American Constitutional Society updates the scorecard as of today:
The Senate continued to advance and confirm judicial nominees this week, instead of dealing with the ongoing pandemic or the potential upcoming federal government shutdown. Five Article III judges were confirmed by the Senate: Kristi Johnson (S.D. Miss.) in a 53-43 vote; Benjamin Beaton (W.D. Ky.) in a 52-44 vote; Toby Crouse (D. Kan.) in a 50-43 vote; Stephen Vaden (Ct. Int’l Trade) in a 49-43 vote; and Kathryn Mizelle (M.D. Fla.) in a 49-41 vote. Mizelle, who is only 33 years old, was rated as “Not Qualified” by a substantial majority of the American Bar Association, in large part due to her lack of experience. Mizelle is the tenth nominee during this administration to receive a “Not Qualified” rating from the ABA. These confirmations bring the total number of Article III judges confirmed under this administration to 227.
On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing for four Article III nominees: Thomas Kirsch II (7th Cir.); Charles Atchley Jr. (E.D. Tenn.); Katherine Crytzer (E.D. Tenn.); and Joseph Dawson III (D.S.C.). Kirsch II has been nominated to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals seat that only became vacancy in late October when then-Judge Amy Coney Barrett was elevated to the U.S. Supreme Court. The hearing primarily focused on originalism and how it applies in the seminal Brown v. Board of Education case.
After confirming the five judges this week, the Senate went on recess for the Thanksgiving holiday. However, before leaving for recess Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell scheduled a cloture vote for a district court nominee on the day the Senate is set to return from recess. Despite being in a lame duck session, it appears the Republican Senate majority will continue confirming judicial nominees up until Inauguration Day.
As of November 19, there are 55 Article III vacancies, 52 of which are current. Once the remaining nominees are officially nominated, there will be 30 pending nominees: 6 waiting for floor votes, 4 waiting to be reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and 20 waiting for hearings before the Committee.
As of today, the 227 Article III (lifetime appointment) judges have been nominated by Trump and confirmed by the Senate, including three Supreme Court Judges and 53 Court of Appeals judges. The total will be over 250 by year end. That represents almost one-third if the authorized Article III judgeships. That represents a powerful pushback to the leftist activist tilt the judiciary has taken on, but is not the massive restructuring that a second Trump term would accomplish.
Unless The Kraken really is released, it appears this series of “While You Were” posts may be coming to an end soon. For the historical record:
- While you were focused on COMEY, Trump nominated another group of CONSERVATIVE Judges (June 7, 2017)
- While you were focused on … Republicans kept moving judicial nominees through pipeline (February 18,2018)
- While you were distracted by [insert news cycle], Trump continued to reshape the federal judiciary (May 19, 2019)
- While you were watching the Democrat debates, Mitch McConnell rammed through more judges (August 1, 2019)
- While you were focused on Impeachment, Trump continued to transform the federal judiciary (November 4, 2019)
- While you were watching Gordon Sondland, Trump flipped the 11th Circuit (November 20, 2019)
- This week federal judiciary became one-fifth Trump-appointed, while media focused on Jerry Nadler (December 7, 2019)
- While you were focused on New Hampshire, more Trump judicial nominees were confirmed (February 12, 2020)
- While you were focused on the pandemic, Trump nominated two more Court of Appeals judges (April 5, 2020)
- While you were locked-in and focused on #Obamagate, the judicial confirmation train kept rolling towards November (May 14, 2020)
- As Trump runs out of appeals court vacancies to fill, Lindsey Graham calls for ‘originalist’ judges to take Senior Status (May 28, 2020)
- LIVE: Trump nominates Amy Coney Barrett to Supreme Court (September 26, 2020)
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Author: William A. Jacobson