‘No plans to slow down’ on confirmations for Trump’s judges

Published 6:00 am Saturday, May 26, 2018


U.S. Senator

The Senate is working with President Trump to secure significant accomplishments for the American people, from combating the opioid epidemic to providing the largest year-on-year increase in defense funding in 15 years. However, there’s one key issue I want to especially highlight because it can set our nation on the right path for generations to come.

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It’s the Senate’s successes in confirming President Trump’s highly-qualified nominees to serve as federal judges.

You probably remember my consequential decision to refuse to fill Justice Scalia’s seat on the U.S. Supreme Court in the middle of the 2016 presidential election. I believed that the American people deserved a voice in the selection of their next justice, regardless of who the next president would be. And although they received less attention than the Supreme Court vacancy, there were numerous other lifetime positions on the federal bench that also remained unfilled.

Right after President Trump’s election, I contacted his team to prepare for the important responsibility of filling these judicial vacancies with talented and fair-minded individuals who will respect the role of judges to interpret the law and the Constitution. As a result, President Trump and the Senate are breaking records by consistently confirming judicial nominees who will serve the nation well for decades to come.

Beginning with Justice Neil Gorsuch, the Senate has confirmed nearly 40 federal judges chosen by President Trump. That includes 21 judges to the circuit courts — the court of last resort for most litigants. In fact, we confirmed the most judges to the circuit courts in a president’s first year since the creation of the modern circuit courts system in 1891. Because I made this a top priority, President Trump has nominated nearly one out of eight circuit court judges throughout the nation. And we have no plans to slow down.

For much of the Senate’s history, many judicial nominations were considered noncontroversial, often being confirmed by a simple voice vote. The current Democrat minority in the Senate, however, has tried to obstruct President Trump at nearly every opportunity and has erected numerous partisan, procedural hurdles on these qualified nominees. Often the objections are purely to delay, even if those delaying the nomination actually end up voting for the nominee. Our majority remains undeterred, however, and will continue to press through the cynical delay tactics and confirm the president’s judicial nominees.

Just as important as the number of judicial nominees we’ve confirmed is the outstanding quality of these individuals who will serve with a lifetime appointment on the federal bench. These men and women are brilliant writers and critical thinkers who value and respect our Constitution. And according to one national newspaper, the judges we’ve confirmed “are having an impact on issues ranging from civil rights and campaign spending to public prayer and the death penalty.”

I am especially proud of the Kentuckians we have confirmed to the federal bench. President Trump has nominated several outstanding individuals who will have a lasting effect on the commonwealth and the nation.

Three individuals I recommended to the president were confirmed by the Senate and now serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Judges Amul Thapar and John Bush, both confirmed last year, have already authored many opinions deciding important cases for our nation. Just recently, the Senate confirmed John Nalbandian, a third Kentuckian to serve on this important panel. Like Judges Thapar and Bush, Judge Nalbandian has sterling credentials and a dedication to interpret the Constitution and our laws as written.

President Trump has also nominated three eminently-qualified individuals to serve as federal district court judges in Kentucky — including two impressive women. Earlier this year, the Senate confirmed Judge Claria Horn Boom, hailing from Martin County in Eastern Kentucky, and Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings of Louisville. And soon, the Senate will confirm another Kentuckian, Magistrate Judge Robert Wier, of Versailles, to serve as a federal district court judge.

Our success wouldn’t be possible without the leadership of President Trump and the hard work and dedication of Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley. Confirming high-quality judges continues to be my top priority because I believe their decisions will benefit the people of Kentucky and our nation long into the future.

Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, is the U.S. Senate majority leader.