For the umpteenth time, Senate Democrats place civility over reality while Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell steamrolls them every step of the way. And with scores of judicial nominations at stake, we cannot have the GOP Senate minority obstruct our needed progress.
When Donald Trump was president and Republicans held the Senate, they got 234 federal judges confirmed—including three Supreme Court justices. Trump may have lost reelection in 2020, but his judicial appointees are still on the bench, voting to overrule Roe v. Wade and blocking an abortion pill that is safer than Tylenol.
We must counteract this by confirming President Joe Biden’s judges—and for a while, things were going well.
Despite a precarious 50-50 Senate majority during his first two years, Biden had (as of February) 105 confirmed judicial appointments. These judges have brought much-needed diversity to the bench, helping to create a judicial system that looks more like America. But now that pace has slowed to a grinding halt—and prospects are not looking good.
Sign the petition: The Senate must cancel August recess to focus on confirming judges.
Senate Republicans are doing all they can to slow down the process of confirming judges, knowing that every day they block a Biden appointee preserves their right-wing hold on the judiciary. They will not move forward with judicial nominees from red states, and the archaic tradition of "blue slips" gives them an incomprehensible veto power.
As staff writer Joan McCarter explains:
The blue slip procedure is the tradition between the White House and the Senate where they cooperate in identifying nominees. When both reach agreement on one, the home state senator for that judge submits their approval to the Judiciary Committee on a piece of paper that happens to be blue. When they don’t turn in that piece of paper, the committee chair has a choice: accept their obstruction and leave the seat open, or ignore their opposition and move ahead anyway. It’s a courtesy the chair extends to the senators, and not a formal Senate rule.
Mississippi Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith is actively and loudly using this process in the most cynical and bigoted way to block a district court nominee, Scott Colom, who happens to be Black and supports trans rights.
And with Dianne Feinstein out due to illness with no set return date, Democrats are one seat short on the Senate Judiciary Committee. McConnell is refusing to allow a temporary replacement. Despite the American voters having given Democrats a 51-49 Senate majority, Republicans can use this technicality to blockade dozens of qualified nominees, justice be damned.
As former Sen. Russ Feingold, who now runs the American Constitution Society, wrote in a recent op-ed for The Hill:
The relative meager pace might be all well and good if the Senate were also knee deep in legislation that had a fighting chance of passing. It’s not. Confirming judges is arguably the most productive and impactful thing the 118th Senate can do.
In 2018, when Senate Republicans were hell-bent on filling judicial appointments during the Trump era, McConnell canceled the August recess. He understood that they only had limited time to ram through as many right-wing judges as possible while they had power.
It is time for Senate Democrats to return the favor. As long as Republicans play these games of obstruction, we must force them to pay the price by staying in Washington, D.C., during the summer. Democrats did not cancel August recess in 2022 because it was an election year. They do not have that same excuse in 2023. And with Trump-appointed judges making extreme rulings, we do not have the luxury to wait for more time.
Sign the petition: The Senate must get more of Biden’s judge appointments through.
Markos and Kerry are joined by Aaron Rupar today to discuss what he is seeing in the right-wing media landscape. Rupar is an independent journalist whose Public Notice Substack is a must-read for those who want to know how truly outrageous the conservative movement is. We are addicted to his Twitter account, with its never-ending stream of Republican lunacy all captured on video.