Senate Tees Up Nominees, Looks to Close Gap on Judicial Confirmations

April 12, 2024
Full Court Press | First Liberty Insider

by Jorge Gomez • 5 min read

The U.S. Senate is teeing up confirmation votes for three more of President Joe Biden’s judicial nominees. In a recent letter to members of his party, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer indicated that nominees are a priority on the agenda, as the Senate returns from a brief recess.

If three more judges are confirmed, President Biden will match Trump at this point in his presidency with 193 lifetime judicial confirmations, Roll Call reports. Biden, however, still needs about 44 more confirmations to match Trump’s 234 total judicial appointments.

Could Biden and his party bridge the gap? There are close to 45 federal judicial vacancies right now, but less than 15 pending nominees, per U.S. Courts.

Plus, there’s the added pressure of 2024 being an election year.  A presidential cycle means more time away from Washington for lawmakers, whether for party conventions or as they campaign for reelection.Scheduling time for confirmation votes could get complicated.

What’s more, the Senate is not scheduled to be in session for almost all of August. It’s also scheduled to leave town in late September and not return until November after the 2024 election.

In the raw total of confirmed judges, Biden and Trump are practically tied. But the big difference between the two is in the number of appellate court judges they appointed. Trump had 54 appellate judges confirmed during his four years in office. So far, Biden trails with 41 judges confirmed to appeals courts. Most of Biden’s confirmations have been to the lower district courts.

“That’s not to say that district courts aren’t important, but most precedent and most law is made on appeals courts, since the Supreme Court accepts so few cases,” explained Curt Levey, president of the Committee for Justice.

Thomas Jipping, senior legal fellow with The Heritage Foundation, also said it will be an uphill battle for Biden to catch Trump in lower court confirmations by the end of the year. Especially with the narrow 51-49 majority that Democrats hold in the Senate.

Biden nominees are also facing increased opposition. Some have even lost support with members of the President’s party and possibly dooming their chances at confirmation. This further complicates the possibility of Biden catching up to Trump.

Learn More:

Roll Call: Senate Democrats look to close judicial confirmation gap

National Review: Do Not Confirm These Unworthy Judicial Nominees

Fox News: Appellate Court Nominee Faces Uphill Battle to Salvage Nomination

The Daily Signal: How Biden Stacks Up to Trump on Confirmed Judges

Townhall: As White House Stands by Embattled Judicial Nominee, Democrats Jump Ship

Law360: Judicial Nominees On Schumer’s Post-Recess To-Do List

Radical Groups Double Down on Court Purging

This week, a coalition of more than 50 activist groups backed a bill to impose Supreme Court term limits.

At first glance, judicial term limits appear benign. Make no mistake. They’re simply an attempt to cancel justices. It’s better to call this proposal for what it is: court purging.

The bill pending in Congress right now would impose 18-year terms on the nine justices and give the President the power to appoint a new justice every two years. Under that proposal, the longest serving members of the court, Justice Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito would be first to go.

Three of the Court’s conservatives would be purged first, which is no coincidence. This is just part of a larger scheme to take control of the Court. It’s about some who are upset that they can no longer rely on a liberal majority on the Supreme Court to rubber stamp its agenda. They’re trying to bend the rules and rig the Court in their favor, all so they can gain more power.

Washington Times: More than 50 left-leaning groups push for Supreme Court term limits, back House legislation

Epoch Times: Coalition of 56 Activist Groups Backs Democrat Bill to Impose Supreme Court Term Limits

Senate Democrats Say Justice Sotomayor Should ‘Weigh’ Decision to Retire 

As First Liberty reported recently, the radical Left is trying to get Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to retire ASAP. Why? Presumably so that President Biden can replace her with a younger liberal justice who would be on the bench for two, maybe three decades.

Senate Democrats on the Judiciary Committee don’t appear to be joining the effort to purge Sotomayor from the Court. Not yet, at least. But, as NBC News points out, they still “remain haunted by the Ginsburg precedent.”

Several senators recently expressed unease that history could repeat itself. Specifically, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s refusal to step down during a Democratic administration. She didn’t retire when the far Left wanted her to. Her death opened up a vacancy for President Trump to fill on the Supreme Court.

“I’m very respectful of Justice Sotomayor. I have great admiration for her. But I think she really has to weigh the competing factors,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. “We should learn a lesson. And it’s not like there’s any mystery here about what the lesson should be. The old saying — graveyards are full of indispensable people, ourselves in this body included.”

Blumenthal added that “justices have to make their personal decisions about their health, and their level of energy, but also to keep in mind the larger national and public interest in making sure that the court looks and thinks like America.”

“Certainly I think if Justice Ginsburg had it to do over again, she might have rethought her confidence in her own health,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, also a member of the Judiciary Committee. Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii parried the question, saying she’s “not going to be talking about anybody choosing to retire” when asked about Sotomayor.

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa said he wouldn’t call on a justice to retire. “Everybody’s got to make that personal decision,” he said. “And I wouldn’t comment on it for somebody else, because that’s their decision. Just like it’s my decision to run for re-election.”

It’s true—at least right now under the current rules and the law—that the far Left cannot force Justice Sotomayor to retire. In the end, it’s up to her to decide.

However, just because they can’t forcefully remove Sotomayor doesn’t make the plot any less distasteful. One thing is clear when you look at history: intimidating and pressuring judges to retire is a dangerous move taken straight from the authoritarian’s playbook.

Learn More:

NBC News: Top Democrats won’t join calls for Justice Sotomayor to retire, but they still fear a Ruth Bader Ginsburg repeat

First Liberty: Radical Left Keeps Pushing for Justice Sotomayor to Retire

First Liberty: The Radical Left is Spending BIG MONEY to Purge Supreme Court Justices

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