Just a few days remain for Congress to tackle major issues before the end of the year, and Judicial Crisis Network Chief Counsel Carrie Severino says the Senate can do the nation a great service by confirming at least three dozen more judicial nominees and easing a massive backlog of vacancies on the federal bench.
Severino says 14 percent of the federal judicial positions are vacant, which is even higher than when Trump took office. Trump and the GOP-led Senate have placed 84 new judges on the federal courts, including a record number of appellate judges for a two-year span.
But she says 158 vacancies remain. Severino says three dozen are all set for a final Senate vote.
“Some of these people have literally been waiting a year from having their hearing and being done. So some of them have gotten very, very backed up,” said Severino.
Why are these nominees gathering dust when they’ve already been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee? Severino says Democrats are maximizing their efforts to delay and possibly derail the nominations by demanding 30 hours of floor debate for each nomination. The debates cannot take place simultaneously.
“It forces them to go through a single file line, which is, historically, not at all how judges were confirmed. It used to be you would get people going in batches. You would just have voice votes and move on. This is something that’s requiring them to do a lot more procedure, even for judges who are not controversial,” said Severino.
The Republican majority will be bigger in January. The GOP will have either 52 or 53 seats next year depending on the results of the run-off in Mississippi.
Right now, the Republicans hold a slim 51-49 majority, and retiring Ariz. Sen. Jeff Flake may gum up the works even more. Flake is vowing to oppose any nomination in committee or on the floor unless the Senate votes on legislation to protect special counsel Robert Mueller. Severino is baffled by the move.
“To connect that to judges in anyway just doesn’t add up. (The Mueller probe) is not something that has to do with judges,” said Severino.
Severino believes Trump has chosen excellent judicial nominees but needs to pick up the pace.
“We simply need to be able to speed this up to keep up with the process or you’re going to have Trump leaving office with more vacancies than he came in with,” said Severino.
Listen to the whole podcast to hear more about the efforts to get judges confirmed and what options are available to counter efforts by Democrats to slow down the process.