President Donald Trump is quietly working to reshape the nation’s federal court system. During his first 200 days in the Oval Office, the president outpaced his three predecessors with a barrage of conservative nominations to the bench.
Trump’s highest profile judicial win was Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch’s appointment. But Trump has nominated 43 other federal judges and scored eight confirmations in his short time in office, outperforming the nomination records of Presidents Barack Obama. George Bush and Bill Clinton for the same time spans during their respective tenures.
The Daily Signal noted back in August:
Trump entered office Jan. 20 with 105 judicial vacancies, about twice as many as Obama’s 54 openings. And more judges have left the bench over the last half year, bringing the current number of vacancies to 138.
Last week, before going on a two-week “working vacation” at his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, Trump submitted a sixth wave of judicial candidates to the Senate, this time with 10 nominees. The Senate is in recess until after Labor Day.
Trump’s judicial nominees have so impressed Republicans in Congress that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced a plan to prioritize confirmations for judges this week.
“I decide the priority,” McConnell said in an interview. “Priority between an assistant secretary of State and a conservative court judge—it’s not a hard choice to make.”
He also outlined a plan to prevent Democrats from stalling confirmations using “blue slips.”
As explained by The Weekly Standard’s Fred Barnes:
No longer will “blue slips” be allowed to deny a nominee a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing and vote on confirmation. In the past, senators have sometimes barred a nominee from their state by refusing to return their slip to the committee, thus preventing a hearing and confirmation.
“The majority”—that is, Republicans—will treat a blue slip “as simply notification of how you’re going to vote, not as an opportunity to blackball,” McConnell told me. The use of blue slips, he noted, is not a Senate rule and has “been honored in the breach over the years.” Now it won’t be honored at all.
Democrats, of course, aren’t pleased with McConnell’s statement.
“The Senate has fewer and fewer mechanisms that create bipartisanship and bring people to an agreement. The blue slips are one of them,” Democrat Sen.Chuck Schumer said in response.
“It’s just a shame that Senator McConnell is willing to abandon it for circuit court judges. We hope that [Judiciary] Chairman [Chuck] Grassley, who has always believed in the traditions of the Senate, will resist Senator McConnell’s request,” he added.