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President Donald Trump said Monday that the slow pace of Senate confirmations for his long list of judicial nominees is “not fair.”
After going after Senate Democrats for “obstruction” regarding his governmental nominations, he added that he “can say the same thing with our judicial nominees, our judges.”
“We have some of the most qualified people,” Trump said, citing The Wall Street Journal.
“They’re waiting forever on line,” he continued. “It shouldn’t happen that way. It’s not right, it’s not fair.”
Soon after, in an impromptu press conference with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Trump again complained about the slow pace of confirmation. He added that he will set records in terms of how many judges his administration will nominate and have confirmed, and called his administration’s handling of the judicial vacancies on the federal bench one of the “unsung” victories of his term in office.
McConnell echoed Trump in his comments, pushing for a faster pace of confirmation.
Trump’s comments came after McConnell last week pushed for Republicans to crush one of Democrats’ biggest weapons in combating Trump’s nominations to the federal bench.
McConnell told The Weekly Standard in an interview published Wednesday that “blue slips” – a tradition that allows senators to give or withhold their blessing for a judicial nominee from their state – should be viewed as a confirmation of how a senator will vote on nominees, breaking with the norm of needing a blue-slip approval to move forward with a judicial nominee.
The blue-slip process gives the party that does not control the White House leverage over the president’s nominations, and some Democrats have used that power to deny a handful of Trump’s nominees from moving forward in the Judiciary Committee. That, in turn, makes it easier for Trump to advance nominees in states that do not have any Democratic Senate representation.
With Democrats now having the ability to, in many states, prevent Trump’s judicial nominees from advancing, McConnell told The New York Times last month that he thought the blue-slip practice should be scrapped for circuit-court nominations (though it would remain the same for other judicial nominees). That sparked backlash from Democrats, who said the move would be hypocritical, as Republicans staunchly defended the blue-slip process while President Barack Obama was in office.
McConnell pushed the issue again after Politico reported last week that he was receiving heat from influential outside conservative groups for the slow pace of confirmation of Trump’s judicial nominees. The push from those conservative groups came as Trump recently hit 65 combined nominations between appeals courts, district courts, the US Tax Court, and the US Court of Federal Claims. There are currently roughly 140 vacancies on the federal bench, providing Trump with the opportunity to cement a lasting legacy on the courts.