People For the American Way

GOP moving Trump’s judges too SLOWLY? Hardly.

News and Analysis

Conservatives are in such a rush to shift America’s judiciary rightward that they’ve lost all sense of perspective. Yesterday’s Washington Examiner reports:

President Trump’s approach to filling the judiciary won praise from conservatives in the immediate aftermath of Justice Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation, but Republicans’ inaction on lower court nominees has begun to rub conservative legal experts the wrong way.

Some conservatives say the confirmation process for lower court nominees is moving much too slow. A source familiar with the judicial selection process who advises the White House said Trump has signed off on “dozens” of nominees to the lower courts but has not sent them over to the Senate, where the lack of action on pending nominees has become a problem.

“You don’t want to be in a situation where the White House is rolling out nominee after nominee and they’re just sitting there in dead air, in dead space,” the source said. “So at the end of the day, if you want to speed up the pace with which the president puts out nominations, the other thing you have to do is you have to have a Senate Judiciary Committee that’s actually going to move these people through because there’s not a lot of value to naming people and then having them sit for months.”

Wow. That’s a lot of griping about judicial nomination and confirmation process taking too long. “Inaction on lower court nominees?”  “Moving much too slow?”  “Lack of action?”  “Sitting there in dead air?”  “Having them sit for months?”

Perhaps time moves more slowly the farther to the right you are. For the rest of us, things are moving along at lightning speed.

Like Trump, President Obama’s first lower court judicial nominee was for a circuit court. Due to constant GOP obstruction, it took 247 days for him to be confirmed. In contrast, Trump’s first lower court nominee—Amul Thapar, for the Sixth Circuit—zipped from nomination to confirmation in just 65 days.

The timeline of his confirmation demonstrates that Senate Republicans moved his nomination quickly once he submitted his first public paperwork:

  • April 12:  The Judiciary Committee posted Thapar’s questionnaire response, which forms much of the basis of the committee and the public’s ability to examine the nominee’s record. In addition to the response were an enormous pile of attachments, including every published item he’s written or edited, transcripts of every interview he’s given, cases he has litigated, policy statements he has made, and much, much more.
  • April 26:  Two weeks later, Grassley held Thapar’s committee hearing.
  • May 8:  Thapar submitted his responses to committee members’ written questions.
  • May 11:  Just three days later, Grassley had a vote on Thapar on the agenda, but Democrats exercised their option to delay it a week to actually have time to study the record, including the recently submitted written responses.
  • May 18:  The committee approved Thapar by a party-line vote.
  • May 22:  The very next business day, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell filed cloture on Thapar’s nomination.
  • May 24:  McConnell held the cloture vote. Under Senate rules, the actual confirmation vote could not take place until the next day.
  • May 25:  The Senate confirmed Thapar.

65 days for Trump’s first nominee vs. 247 days for Obama’s, and Republicans say the process is moving too slowly??

Perhaps Einstein would call it nominations relativity: for an object far from the center and accelerating ever more rightward, 65 is more than 247.

Or maybe Republicans are just hypocrites. Occam’s razor would suggest the latter.


Amul Thapar, judicial nominations, Protecting Lower Courts