McConnell Talking Tough To Save His Hide
but he has done this many times in the past only to cave to Democrat pressure so….
Hardball: McConnell Changes Rule to Overcome Obstruction of Trump’s Judicial Picks, Dems Fume
October 11, 2017
This may seem like an abstruse parliamentary maneuver — and it is — but Mitch McConnell just escalated the judicial wars in a minor but meaningful way. If frustrated conservatives want the GOP Senate majority to “start acting like one,” McConnell’s decision eliminates a lever Democrats have been using to stymie some of President Trump’s judicial picks. In that sense, he’s very much acting like a majority leader; a Democratic one. Try not to let your eyes glaze over as you read the details of this move, which involves dramatically reducing the power of so-called “blue slips” on judges, with which Senators from the home state of a presidential selection have been able to withhold their consent in order to prevent that nomination from moving forward. Not anymore. McConnell warned Democrats that he was leaning this direction last month, hoping they’d abandon this form of partisan blockade. They didn’t. So he’s followed through on his threat — via the Weekly Standard:
– Confirming judicial nominees has been elevated to a top priority in the Senate. “I decide the priority,” McConnell said in an interview. “Priority between an assistant secretary of State and a conservative court judge—it’s not a hard choice to make.” And when nominees “come out of committee, I guarantee they will be dealt with,” McConnell said. “Regardless of what tactics are used by Democrats, the judges are going to be confirmed.”
– No longer will “blue slips” be allowed to deny a nominee a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing and vote on confirmation. In the past, senators have sometimes barred a nominee from their state by refusing to return their slip to the committee, thus preventing a hearing and confirmation. “The majority”—that is, Republicans—will treat a blue slip “as simply notification of how you’re going to vote, not as an opportunity to blackball,” McConnell told me. The use of blue slips, he noted, is not a Senate rule and has “been honored in the breach over the years.” Now it won’t be honored at all.
– The so-called “30 hours rule”—which provides for 30 hours of debate on a nominee—won’t be overturned. But McConnell vowed to set aside time for these debates. And he can make this happen because he sets the Senate schedule.
– Since Trump was inaugurated, judicial vacancies have grown from 106 to 149. Upcoming resignations will boost the number of vacancies to 166. The possibility of losing control of the Senate in 2018 has added to the concern among Republicans about the losing the chance to maximize the conservative influence in the federal courts. This, McConnell said, “is another reason to more quickly.”
Say what you will about McConnell, he’s been stone cold on this surpassingly important issue. Let’s address each bullet point, starting with the last one:
First, even if this “unified” Republican government is paralyzed by disagreement, disunity, and inaction — from healthcare to tax reform — one lasting legacy that they flatly cannot and must not fail to cement is filling the federal courts with constitutionalists. Democrats exploded the minority’s ability to thwart judicial appointments via the filibuster in 2013 after pioneering the practice as a partisan weapon during the Bush administration. Republicans finally fought back and answered in-kind during the Gorsuch nomination. Democrats will retaliate the next chance they get, so the GOP must take advantage of the Obama/Reid precedent as aggressively as possible while they control the presidency and US Senate. There is no excuse not to populate those 166 vacancies with young, capable, smart conservatives. Thus far, President Trump’s judicial nominees have been absolutely stellar. A lot more, as soon as possible, please.
Second, maintaining the “30 hours rule” is a reasonable accommodation, even as some critics would prefer to see the debate limit sliced by nearly three-quarters (down to eight hours) to expedite the process. McConnell’s plan for keeping the trains running on time will likely force Democrats to employ their slow-walking tactics at extremely inconvenient times, including overnight hours.
Third, the “blue slip” change is the most significant shift McConnell has engineered here. It’s the one Democrats are howling over, even though I strongly believe that Republicans are correct that Democrats would do the exact same thing if the roles were reversed. Their history of unprecedented aggression in these battles is well established. Ed Morrissey also points out that this gambit isn’t exactly wiping away centuries of sacrosanct tradition:
This definitely escalates the long-running judiciary wars in the Senate, but the blue-slip change just returns it to its usual status quo ante. As I noted a month ago, blue slips have been advisory-only for most of their century-long history. Only for two significant periods has the blue slip served as a one-person stealth filibuster, and technically doesn’t work that way now. According to the rules since 2003, it takes both home-state senators withholding their blue slips to stop a hearing and confirmation, which should have already cleared the path for [Minnesota’s David] Stras. Ryan Bounds, on the other hand, has been blocked by both Oregon senators, who claim that Trump didn’t consult with them on the choice.
I’ll leave you with this column from National Review’s Jim Geraghty, reacting to Steve Bannon’s announced plans to challenge nearly every Republican Senate incumbent. Geraghty’s takeaway: “Trump doesn’t need different GOP Senators. He needs more of them.” Correct.
Read the entire article HERE.
Good points in this article. While appointees come and go determined by the one appointing them, only one area is critical to helping our country get back on track as constitutionalists need to have happen.
The only problem I see is that given the total takeover of most areas of university and in particular those in the legal field–CAN enough conservative attorneys and judges be found to fill the judgeship positions?
We have all seen several Obama “liberal” judge appointees and how they have chosen to override law and the constitution on issues–most notably anything Trump has declared for or against. THEY are powerful in that their rulings are used for years to come as signposts for future rulings. If liberal/non-constitutional people are in those positions, then we know that the country will continue to spiral toward globalism and away from national sovereignty.
So the single most important issue for the Senate is to push hard to restore judicial branch to a firmer constitutional basis rather than a liberal basis.
McConnell has backed down time and again, giving way to Democrat memes; but, he did not do so on Gorsuch and hopefully in this one instance not on this issue either.
While many bring into question his continued role as Senate leader, he IS currently in position and should be pressured to make sure at a minimum that this is accomplished. However, like my article yesterday questioned Senate activity, we have to also continue to force compliance by all Senators that have been elected to continue to fight FOR CITIZENS INTERESTS and not to give in to Democrat sway. The “good ole boys” day of pay-to-play cannot continue or we will never start down the road to repair and save our republic.