While conservatives and liberals prepare for the U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, a coalition of conservative legal voices are pleading with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to brush aside stalling tactics from Democrats and confirm a major backlog of judicial nominees before Kavanaugh’s hearings next month.
Led by Rob Henneke of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, the coalition sent a letter urging McConnell to change the rules if necessary to allow up or down votes in 152 district and appellate court nominees.
“The quality of the pending nominees and confirmed judges is outstanding. The confirmation of constitutionalist judges to these lifetime appointments will impact our nation for decades to come and will be the lasting legacy of this period in history,” states the letter.
Henneke says the Senate needs to buckle down and get the nominees across the finish line.
“There is a backlog. It is growing every day, and it’s presenting a problem as far as the judiciary being able to get it’s job done,” said Henneke.
The nominees have all had confirmation hearings and committee votes, but Democrats are using Senate rules to grind the confirmation process to a halt. Henneke says McConnell must be willing to make rule changes, starting with the 30-hour rule to debate each nominee.
“The Democrats are claiming that 30 hours for every nominee. They’re not actually talking about the nominee. There’s nobody on the Senate floor. They’re just forcing that clock to run for each and every single nominee to slow down the process,” said Henneke, who has two ideas to trump the Democrats’ strategy.
“One is to shorten the period of time from 30 hours to a much more reasonable period of time and then to actually require there to be debate or discussion about a particular nominee or that time period would be waived or would expire,” said Henneke.
McConnell cancelled some of the August recess. Lawmakers returned to Washington Wednesday and plan to tackle two nominations this week. Henneke says they need to do better. He wants to see Republicans willing to put in the long hours to “clear the deck” of these stalled nominations.
“The Senate needs to put more hours into this process. We would encourage the Senate to be working 24/7 to clear the deck and to confirm all of the pending nominees. That may require later hours and more days for the Senate to be in session,” said Henneke, who says McConnell needs to stop considering rule changes and just implement them.
“The threats need to turn into action and we need our Senate leadership and Leader McConnell to impose what he can do to get the job done,” said Henneke.
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He says getting all 152 confirmed would have a major impact on the federal judiciary.
“I think it would be transformative in putting constitutional, rule of law jurists on the bench who will decide cases, not based on partisanship or policy but on what the law says and what the United States Constitution says, which is what the role of the judiciary is and should be,” said Henneke.
He says allowing the backlog to persist would shift from frustrating to disastrous if Democrats win the majority in the midterm elections.
“They don’t get confirmed, and we lose this opportunity for now and for generations to come to have reform of the federal judiciary that’s going to uphold the Constitution and defend the rule of law and that would be catastrophic for the future of our country,” said Henneke.