It's Thursday, May 12 and Day 89 since Justice Antonin Scalia died and Mitch McConnell laid down his Supreme Court blockade: No meetings, no hearings, no votes on his replacement. It's also Day 57 since President Obama named Merrick Garland to be Scalia's replacement. What's the Senate doing today instead of considering the Supreme Court nominee?
Maybe, just maybe confirming a judge. Paula Xinis has been waiting for a floor vote to fill the vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Southern Division since September 17, 2015, when the Judiciary Committee approved her. She's the first of 11 federal district judges who have been passed out of committee and have yet to be voted on.
That she's getting this vote could actually kind of be attributed to a Republican, Sen. Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania. Toomey is facing a tough reelection and seems to think that Pennsylvania voters will ignore the fact that he's happily blockading the Supreme Court nomination of Garland if he tries to get Pennsylvania judges confirmed. So on Wednesday, he tried to jump the queue and get two of his nominees fast-tracked. The normal process for for nominees is 1) to actually get a vote on the floor, and 2) to be voted on in the order in which they were confirmed by the committee. Toomey's two judges are numbers nine and 10. His colleague, Democrat Bob Casey, had been on the floor Tuesday, attempting to get unanimous consent for all 11 of the district judges approved.
Glenn Sugameli, a lawyer and activist who tracks court vacancies, said Mr. Toomey is cherry-picking nominees even though he knows the full Senate would never agree to take them up out of order.
“It’s a political stunt that certainly appears to be for optics,” Mr. Sugameli said. “Objectively, he must have known that this would not work. If he had been serious he could have joined Sen. Casey on the floor the day before.”
McConnell ultimately shot Toomey down, as he shot down Casey on Tuesday. But the fight did seem to shake loose the Xinis nomination. So there's that. No movement on the Supreme Court, where Toomey argues the vacancy has to be maintained because, according to spokesperson E.R. Anderson, "the long-term ideological balance of the nation's highest court is at stake with the Garland nomination, and we have an election right around the corner." It's been right around the corner for the past 89 days. From this whole kerfuffle you can conclude one thing: Pat Toomey is as full of shit as his fellow Republicans.
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