January 15, 2019

Keeping Up the Fight on Nominations


KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • During the 115th Congress, the Senate confirmed 30 circuit court judges, a modern record for a president’s first Congress.
  • That progress came despite unprecedented Democrat obstruction that caused the most returned nominees – for judicial and executive branch jobs – of any president since Ronald Reagan.
  • There are still 132 federal district and circuit court vacancies to fill, and more will likely arise.

Major nomination hearings of the 116th Congress start this week at the Judiciary Committee with William Barr’s nomination to be attorney general and at Environment and Public Works with Andrew Wheeler’s nomination to be EPA administrator. As the Senate moves forward with nominations, we should recognize the successes and challenges of the last Congress and redouble our efforts to confirm qualified appointees. If the pace set by President Trump and Senate Republicans continues, Trump will have successfully appointed more circuit judges in one term than Franklin Roosevelt did in more than three terms. At the same time, Democrat obstruction led to nearly twice as many nominees being returned to President Trump at the end of his first Congress as were returned to President Obama at the same point.

Confirmed Judges and Vacancies

Vacancies & Nominations

Transforming the federal judiciary

During the 115th Congress, the Senate confirmed 30 circuit court judges, a modern record for a president’s first Congress. This represents a major down payment on a conservative judiciary. Circuit court judges serve a crucial role in the judicial system. Every district court decision is appealable to a circuit court, but the Supreme Court reviews only a tiny fraction of circuit court decisions. The circuit courts are thus often the final authority on interpreting the law in their part of the country. Having more conservatives on the circuit courts will go a long way to establishing a conservative judiciary, regardless of the balance of the Supreme Court. In addition, modern presidents tend to pick Supreme Court justices from among circuit court judges. More Republican-appointed circuit court judges means a deeper pool of potential Supreme Court justices.

In addition to the circuit judges and two successful Supreme Court nominations, Republicans confirmed 53 district court judges. These judges are the first line of defense in protecting the Constitution and the rule of law and will provide a new generation of circuit nominees for the future.

There are still 132 vacancies to be filled in federal district and circuit courts, and more will likely arise.

DEMOCRAT Obstruction

Republicans’ success in confirming judges came despite unprecedented Democrat obstruction of nominees, both executive and judicial. President Trump submitted 1,136 nominees during his first Congress, almost identical to the 1,132 submitted by President Obama. However, the Senate confirmed 29 percent more Obama nominees than Trump nominees during the same period of each presidency. At the end of the 115th Congress the Senate was forced to return 386 nominees to the president without confirmation. This is almost twice the number returned to President Obama at the end of his first Congress. It was the largest number of returned nominees of any president since Ronald Reagan.

Democrat Obstruction Slowing Trump’s Nominees Compared to Obama’s

Returned and Confirmed

Issue Tag: Judiciary