Senate Republicans Launch Judicial Push, Confirm New Appeals Judges

Mitch McConnell
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
Washington, DC

Senate Republicans are launching an aggressive push to confirm as many of President Trump’s judicial nominees as possible before the midterm elections, including confirming two new judges – Michael Brennan and Kurt Engelhardt – to the powerful federal appeals courts this week.

President Trump nominated Engelhardt to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and Brennan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

Brennan was more controversial of the two. His seat is traditionally regarded as a Wisconsin seat, but Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) refused to return her “blue slip” – a courtesy allowing home-state senators to weigh in on a nominee, but which some Senate Democrats have tried to use since 2016 as a one-man veto to prevent the Senate Judiciary Committee from even holding a hearing on the nomination.

While Engelhardt was confirmed 62 to 34, Brennan was confirmed on a strict party-line vote of 49 to 46.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) took a victory lap for President Trump and Senate Republicans on Thursday right before the vote, promising that the Senate would continue its “work to confirm President Trump’s well-qualified judicial nominees.” He noted that Brennan’s “nomination carries bipartisan support from those who know him best, including the endorsement of more than 30 current and former [judicial] peers in Wisconsin.”

“Not too surprising, then, that the American Bar Association has awarded Mr. Brennan its highest rating – unanimously well-qualified,” McConnell added.

Praising Brennan’s “exemplary resume,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), Brennan’s other home-state senator, lauded Brennan’s top-school education, two federal judicial clerkships, work as a prosecutor, and almost a decade of service as a state judge.

“Judge Michael Brennan has the mind, heart and soul of a great jurist,” agreed Judge Mary Kuhnmuench, the former president of the Wisconsin Trial Judges Association. “He has consistently demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the fundamental constitutional principle of apply the rule of law without respect to persons.”

“What distinguishes Judge Brennan from others,” she added, “is his humanity.”

The Senate will vote in the coming days on the nominations of Joel Carson and John Nalbandian for the federal appeals courts, as Republicans accelerate their efforts to confirm federal judges to lifetime appointments before the November elections.

“Each deserves to be confirmed by this body and take their place on the federal bench,” McConnell concluded. “Our friends across the aisle aren’t making it easy, but despite that historic obstruction, this Senate will continue to do what it takes to process and confirm the president’s fine nominees to these important posts.”

Ken Klukowski is senior legal editor for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.

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