The Senate on Wednesday confirmed President TrumpDonald John TrumpBowman holds double-digit lead over Engel in NY primary McGrath leads Booker in Kentucky with results due next week NY Republican Chris Jacobs wins special election to replace Chris Collins MORE’s 200th judicial nominee.
The milestone marks the latest victory for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcGrath leads Booker in Kentucky with results due next week Ocasio-Cortez fends off challenger in House primary Democrats spend big to bolster struggling Hickenlooper MORE (R-Ky.), who views the federal judiciary as a top priority.
The Senate voted 52-48 on Cory Wilson’s nomination to be a 5th Circuit judge. Like many of Trump’s appeals court judges, Wilson was confirmed largely along party lines with Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Trump turns to immigration; primary day delays expected GOP rallies around Trump after firing of Manhattan US attorney Susan Collins opposes Trump’s pick for Fifth Circuit MORE (Maine) the only Republican senator to vote against the nomination.
Republicans took a victory lap ahead of the vote.
McConnell, speaking from the Senate floor, noted that in addition to being Trump’s 200th judicial nominee, Wilson’s confirmation means there will be no vacancies on the country’s influential appeals courts.
“As I’ve said many times, our work with the administration to renew our federal courts is not a partisan or political victory. It is a victory for the rule of law and for the Constitution itself,” McConnell said.
“If judges applying the law and the Constitution as they’re written strikes any of our colleagues as a threat to their political agenda, then the problem, I would argue, is with their agenda,” he added.
Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGOP rallies around Trump after firing of Manhattan US attorney Grassley lifts holds on two Trump nominees Bipartisan Senate group offers bill to strengthen watchdog law after Trump firings MORE (R-Iowa), the former chairman and current member of the Judiciary Committee, added that he expected Trump’s nominees to be in the mold of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
“This landmark achievement is the result of the president keeping his word and the unwavering determination of Leader McConnell, Chairman Graham and our conference,” he said, referring to Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamBusiness groups hint at lawsuits over Trump order limiting visas On The Money: Trump drags mild-mannered regulator into political firefight | Trump says he supports another round of stimulus checks | Navarro steps back from comments that China trade deal is ‘over’ GOP senator introducing bill to scale back qualified immunity for police MORE (R-S.C.).
“In the hands of these many new judges, the future of American jurisprudence is bright,” he added.
Republicans have set a record pace at confirming Trump’s appeals court nominees, including breaking a record for the number of picks confirmed during an administration’s first and second year in office.
McConnell views the judiciary, and in particular the circuit courts, as the party’s best shot at having a long-term influence on the direction of the country.
Judicial nominees have increasingly become a lightning rod in recent years. The then-Democratic controlled Senate went “nuclear” to get rid of the 60-vote hurdle for most judicial nominees and all executive nominees.
Republicans then nixed the same roadblock in 2017 for Supreme Court nominees. They went “nuclear” a second time in 2019 to cut down on the amount of time it takes to confirm district court judges and most executive nominees.
Democrats have railed against the GOP tactics on judicial nominations, whom they view as out of the mainstream. In some instances they’ve refused to return a blue slip on the nominations, which indicates if a home-state senator supports it, but Republicans have moved forward with circuit picks even if home-state senators object.
Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerOcasio-Cortez fends off challenger in House primary GOP lawmakers voice support for Israeli plan to annex areas in West Bank The Hill’s Coronavirus Report: Rep. Mark Takano says Congress must extend worker benefits expiring in July; WHO reports record spike in global cases MORE (D-N.Y.) and Sens. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSusan Collins opposes Trump’s pick for Fifth Circuit This week: Congress set for showdown on police reform legislation Bipartisan Senate group offers bill to strengthen watchdog law after Trump firings MORE (Calif.), the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, and Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley: Apple’s developer dispute draws lawmaker scrutiny of App Store | GOP senator blocks bill to expand mail-in and early voting | Twitter flags Trump tweet on protesters for including ‘threat of harm’ GOP senator blocks bill to boost mail-in and early voting during pandemic Biden campaign vetting Congressional Black Caucus chair Karen Bass as potential running mate MORE (D-Minn.), a member of the panel, called on McConnell to pull the vote on Wilson’s nomination.
“Judge Wilson has been an ardent supporter of restrictive voting measures, including voter ID laws, that disproportionately harm minority voters, and he has shown a pattern of dismissing legitimate concerns from voting rights groups,” they wrote earlier this week.
“Appointing someone to the Fifth Circuit who refers to the concerns of African American citizens and community advocates regarding the effects of voter ID laws as ‘poppycock’ is a slap in the face to Black Americans at a time when our country is working to take steps forward on racial justice, not backwards,” they added.
Democrats were referring to remarks that Wilson made in 2011 where he argued that concerns a voter ID law would suppress the vote were “poppycock, unless you count the dead vote,” according to The Washington Post.
Democrats have accused Republicans of trying to stack the courts with their ideological allies. Demand Justice is calling on former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenJoe Biden wins New York primary The Memo: Trump’s law and order bet falling flat Pro-Trump group ad questions Biden’s mental fitness MORE and congressional Democrats, if they win the White House and Senate, to expand the number of circuit and district court seats.
“President Obama picked the most diverse judicial nominees in history, but Mitch McConnell blocked them with the fewest confirmations in generations, so he could leave more than 100 vacancies for Donald Trump to fill. Trump has done so overwhelmingly with young, white men who have done enormous damage to our courts’ diversity and legitimacy,” said Christopher Kang, the chief counsel for Demand Justice.