11/13/2017 / By JD Heyes
One of the reasons why President Donald J. Trump’s victory was so important for liberty and freedom is that as head of the Executive Branch he gets to pick nominees to fill federal court vacancies.
Why does that matter? Because if Hillary Clinton had won, she would have continued Barack Obama’s tradition of naming far-Left activists to lifetime federal court positions, where they would decide cases based more on their political ideology than constitutional principles and existing statutory law, which is how federal judges are supposed to decide them.
So far, Trump has won plaudits from constitutional law experts for nominating judges who have a demonstrated record of following the nation’s founding document. But there are literally hundreds of judicial vacancies on numerous federal circuit courts more than 10 months after Trump took office.
Why? Because Republicans who control the Senate, where federal judges are confirmed, are refusing to ditch arcane chamber rules that have allowed Democrats to block Trump court nominees in an unprecedented manner.
In fact, as The Daily Signal reports, less than half of Trump’s nominees to the Judicial and Executive branches of government have been confirmed by the Senate, marking the lowest number of confirmations over the past four administrations, at comparable points in their presidencies.
The pathetically low numbers — just 223 confirmations of 519 nominees — were handed out to the media by the White House last week amid complaints of never-before-seen obstruction by the minority party, the Democrats. The Senate’s lax schedule, with diminished work days, hasn’t helped the situation either.
There are 175 of the president’s nominees still pending, awaiting action from various Senate committees (all of which Republicans control, mind you), with yet another 101 on the chamber’s calendar still waiting for a confirmation vote, the White House says.
“Personnel is policy,” the Conservative Action Project argued in an Oct. 10 letter. “In delaying the confirmation of President Trump’s appointees, the Senate is directly limiting the President’s effectiveness.”
In other words, the longer it takes to confirm Trump’s nominees, the longer former (Obama-era and beyond) appointees will have an opportunity to slow down or outright thwart the current president’s agenda via several bureaucratic techniques like slow-walking presidential directives or simply failing to carry them out.
As The Daily Signal reported further:
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has used delaying tactics, such as the maximum of 30 hours of debate on nominees, to slow down the confirmation process of Trump picks. That glacial pace means as few as two to five nominees are getting roll-call votes each week.
“If this continues, it will take us more than 11 years to confirm the remaining presidential appointment[s],” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said earlier this year. (Related: Trump supports ‘nuclear option’ to get his Supreme Court nominees approved, after Democrats used it for Obama’s court picks)
Fair enough — but then why won’t McConnell change the rules so that Democrats can’t continue to block Trump’s nominees?
Even the president has called on McConnell to change them. As reported by CNN, Trump called for the Senate majority leader to change rules so that Democrats could not block legislation via the 60-vote filibuster rule, which is just that — a rule — not a constitutional requirement.
McConnell may have gotten the president’s message, however. Last month, the Kentucky Republican said that he would end the Senate’s “blue slip” tradition, which allows senators to veto judicial nominees from their home state.
As The Weekly Standard reported, McConnell has also taken other measures that are designed to speed up judicial nominations, which he has made a top issue. “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.”
When nominees “come out of committee, I guarantee they will be dealt with,” McConnell added. “Regardless of what tactics are used by Democrats, the judges are going to be confirmed.”
But McConnell won’t ditch the rule that allows for 30 hours of debate on each nominee, which Democrats have been using to their advantage.
J. D. Heyes is a senior correspondent for NewsTarget and Trump.news, as well as editor-in-chief of The National Sentinel.