Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is relentlessly moving forward to confirm judges, apparently determined to get as many conservative judges into the judiciary across the nation while there is still time in the Trump presidency.
Since the November 3 election, the Senate has confirmed six district court nominees, and McConnell wants to confirm judges who will take the positions vacated by the ascension of Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit as well as the position vacated by the death of Judge Juan R. Torruella, who served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, was appointed by President Ronald Reagan and was that court’s first Hispanic member.
President Trump has nominated Raúl M. Arias-Marxuach, who was nominated to the federal bench in May of 2019 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate on a 95-3 vote, to replace Torruella. The president nominated Thomas L. Kirsch II to replace Barrett.
The week of November 16, five Article III judges were confirmed by the Senate: Benjamin Beaton, Toby Crouse, Kristi Johnson, Kathryn Mizelle, and Stephen Vaden.
Judge Aileen Cannon was confirmed on November 12.
National Review noted on Monday: “The Senate Judiciary Committee for its part held hearings on Wednesday for five nominees, including Thomas L. Kirsch II, who has been nominated to the Seventh Circuit seat vacated by Justice Amy Coney Barrett. Three other nominees have cloture motions pending on the Senate floor, so at least that many should be confirmed after the Senate returns next week.”
At the end of October, radio host Hugh Hewitt interviewed McConnell and asked him about pushing forward to confirm judges.
“There is now a vacancy on the 7th Circuit for which there is a nominee, and the death of a 1st Circuit judge has opened up a vacancy on that circuit,” said Hewitt. “Certainly, that was not expected, and is to be regretted. But do you expect the Senate to fill those two positions in the lame duck term after the election?”
“Well, we’re going to run through the tape,” McConnell replied. “We go through the end of the year, and so does the President. We’re going to fill the 7th Circuit. And I’m hoping we have time to fill the 1st Circuit as well. And we are, by the way, confirming a district judge as soon as we get back after the election, and we’re going to clean the plate, clean all the district judges off as well.”
McConnell also warned what would happen if the GOP lost the Senate.
“This Supreme Court packing issue has been around all year long, and of course, there would be no oversight at all, as you suggest, of any scandals or anything that might reflect badly on the Democratic administration if there is a Democratic majority,” said the Senate majority leader. “Now the solution to this is 51 Republican senators. The one thing the majority leader can do that others cannot do in the Senate is to decide what we’re going to do, to set the agenda.”
“My biggest decision on agenda setting, obviously, was the decision not to fill the Scalia vacancy,” McConnell continued. “But it applies to a whole lot of other things as well. If Chuck Schumer is setting the agenda in the United States Senate, you can predict the worst. We will go hard left. The country will not look the same after two years of that as it does today.”
The next roll call votes for judges are scheduled for Nov. 30.
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