Despite the fact that the Russian asset in the White House is setting records for the pace at which he is filling vacancies on the federal judiciary, it’s not fast enough for Mitch McConnell. The Senate majority leader is ready to go nuclear again to jam Trump’s nominees through at an unprecedented pace.
Announcing the plan to cut maximum debate time for nominees coming to the floor from 30 hours to as few as two, McConnell’s top deputy Sen. John Thune said leadership “is working to put [judges] out on the floor and as soon as they come to the floor the leader’s making it a priority to move them. […] It’ll be a high priority for the foreseeable future. I mean, it’s one of the things we can do that we don’t need the House’s help with.”
This is like a fire sale of judgeships, with McConnell loading them up with Trump’s picks against a potential Democratic president in 2021. That’s an admitted fact, with even conservative allies admitting it. Leonard Leo, an extremist legal advocate who helps vet nominees, says it out loud. “What you could witness under Senator McConnell’s leadership is a situation where an incoming president has very, very few open seats to fill.” That’s after McConnell engineered a massive amount of vacancies by obstructing as many of President Barack Obama’s nominees as he humanly could.
In an attempt to appeal to any sense of decency among Republicans, Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said he’d be willing to curtail Democrats’ efforts to slow down nominations and avert this latest nuclear option deployment if Republicans would be willing to let Democratic senators have a say on home state judges and restore the blue slip tradition. “They’re eroding democracy, they’re eroding bipartisanship and sooner or later, they’ll regret it.” Proving there is no decency among Republican, nor any respect at all for the institution of the Senate or even the Constitution, Texas Republican John Cornyn dispensed with that idea. “We can get what we need without giving Democratic senators a veto on home-state circuit judges.”
McConnell is likely to trigger the nuclear vote within the next set of nominations to come to the floor, and probably has the 50 votes he needs to get it done. That is, unless a sudden onset of patriotism and civic duty overcomes four or so of his Republican counterparts. For their part, Democrats need to remember this. They need to have Cornyn’s words—”we can get what we need without … Democrat[s]”—burned into their brains, and they need to be ready for some scorched earth of their own when they regain the majority.
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