“There is no vacancy.”
That quote, repeated over and over by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, over the past year, to applaud Republicans and outrage from Democrats, has been the creed behind the determined momentum of the Senate to confirm as many federal judges nominated by Trump as possible. And Cory Wilson’s confirmation 52-48 before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on Wednesday means that McConnell, in one respect, has literally accomplished that goal.
Wilson fills the final vacancy in the federal circuit court. None has been left behind.
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Wilson also marks the 200th Article III general judge appointed for life to be confirmed by the Senate during the Trump presidency. Article III courts include the federal district courts, the circuit courts of appeals, the Supreme Court, and the United States Court of International Trade. That pace is faster than any other president in history, except Jimmy Carter. Those appointed by President Trump now represent more than a quarter of the federal judiciary, a legacy that will last longer than he and McConnell, author of a memoir titled “The Long Game.”
“The most important thing we can do is appoint men and women in court for life who believe a judge’s job is to comply with the law,” McConnell said at the 2018 Securities Voters conference.
And on Wednesday, McConnell said on the floor of the Senate that “[o]Once we confirm Judge Wilson today, the Senate will have confirmed 200,200 of President Trump’s nominees for lifetime appointments at the federal bank. And after number 200, when we get out of this chamber today, there will be no single circuit court vacancy in the country anywhere in the country for the first time in at least 40 years. “
The majority leader also fired on Democrats, who opposed Trump’s judicial nominees at an unprecedented rate.
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“Our work with the administration to renew our federal courts is not a partisan or political victory,” said McConnell. “It is a victory for the rule of law and for the constitution itself. If the judges who apply the law and the constitution as they are written consider any of our colleagues to be a threat to their political agenda, then the problem, I would say , it’s with your agenda. “
And the judges McConnell is confirming will likely remain in office for decades. Wilson is 49 years old. Justin Walker, who the Senate confirmed last week to the DC Circuit, is only 38 years old.
Democrats have jealously opposed Wilson, like many of Trump’s nominees to influential federal appeals courts, which are only one step below the Supreme Court.
“Judicial candidate Cory Wilson called the Affordable Care Act” illegitimate “and” perverse, “Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, DR.I. tweeted Tuesday. “He called NAACP concerns about ‘poppycock’ voter ID laws. He called groups like the ACLU ‘rent-a-mobs’. I call him unqualified and I will vote no on his nomination.”
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It has also been hit by outside left-leaning groups, such as the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, which criticized the Senate for taking time with court confirmations during a pandemic and national racial unrest.
“The Senate should not consider Mr. Wilson’s nomination, or any judicial nomination, at this dangerous time in our nation’s history, when the Senate should focus on efforts to save lives and mitigate the deep economic crisis of COVID-19 in the United States. people, “read a letter written by the group’s president and CEO, Vanita Gupta. “It is especially disturbing that the Senate is prosecuting judicial candidates like Mr. Wilson who seek to dismantle health care protections for vulnerable people.”
But right-leaning court watchers have defended the approach in judges, saying the Senate can walk and chew gum at the same time: the body shortly after Wilson’s confirmation is taking a procedural vote to begin debate on a police reform bill that Democrats will likely block. On Wednesday, they celebrated the confirmation of Trump’s 200th judge.
“We have reached a HISTORICAL MILESTONE of 200 confirmed judges thanks to @RealDonaldTrump, @SenateMajLdr, @ChuckGrassley and @LindsayGrahamSC,” tweeted the president of the Judicial Crisis Network, Carrie Severino. “[Trump] it has delivered on its promise to appoint constitutional judges, saving us from hundreds of policy-driven liberal judges that a President Hillary Clinton would surely have appointed. “
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Mike Davis, chair of Project Article III, a group dedicated to propelling Trump’s judicial nominees, and former staff member of Sen. Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, since his time as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, emphasized comparative success. Trump in confirming judges to his predecessor.
“To put this in perspective, President Obama appointed 55 circuit judges in 8 years; President Trump appointed 53 under-4s,” Davis said. “And President Trump ‘changed’ the second, third, and eleventh circuits from majority judges appointed by Democrats to majority judges appointed by Republicans, while significantly reducing Democratic dominance (from +11 to just +3) once outside of – whack ninth circuit “.
And Davis’ former boss, Grassley, credited Trump for keeping a campaign promise by giving the Senate so many judges to confirm.
“These have been nominated in the mold of Judge Scalia, as promised by the president almost four years ago,” Grassley said in the Senate on Wednesday. “This historic achievement is the result of the president keeping his word.”
And during a time of race-related turmoil and pandemic, with polls showing him behind Democratic rival Joe Biden in his re-election career, Trump apparently feels that judicial appointments are a favorable issue for him. Later this summer, he promised to launch a new list of potential Supreme Court candidates, a move that helped unite the surrounding Republican party in 2016.
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“I will publish a new list of nominees for conservative Supreme Court justices, which may include some, or many of those already on the list, by September 1, 2020,” Trump tweeted last week. “If given the opportunity, I will only choose from this list, as in the past, a conservative Supreme Court judge.”
But Biden continued criticism of Trump, his nominees, and Senate Republicans on Tuesday. The alleged Democratic presidential candidate has yet to release a list of potential Supreme Court candidates like Trump’s, despite having asked some factions of his party.
“Instead of passing police reform or helping working Americans get through this crisis, Republicans are getting into another one of Trump’s unskilled nominees,” Biden said. “It’s wrong. Cory Wilson lacks judicial temperament and experience, and has no place in federal court.”
Chad Pergram of Fox News and Associated Press contributed to this report.